08/31/2011 2:00PM

Saratoga: Havre de Grace swings for fences in Woodward Stakes

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Havre de Grace arrives with trainer Larry Jones to take on the boys in Saturday's Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – At mid-afternoon Wednesday, trainer Larry Jones was attempting to weave his way through traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike as he hauled his top older mare Havre de Grace to Saratoga for Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes.

“I’m ducking and diving and trying to show her what’s she’s going to have to do,” Jones said. “Hopefully, she’ll have a better trip Saturday than we’re having right now.”

Havre de Grace will attempt to weave her way through seven older males in the Woodward as she attempts to put her name in the discussion for Horse of the Year. Havre de Grace will try to become just the second female to win the Woodward. Rachel Alexandra, a 3-year-old at the time, accomplished the feat in 2009 en route to winning Horse of the Year.

Havre de Grace drew post 6 in an eight-horse field and was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite by New York Racing Association linemaker Eric Donovan. She will take on a field that includes Suburban winner and Whitney runner-up Flat Out, multiple stakes winner Mambo Meister, Grade 1 winners Giant Oak and Ice Box, as well as Rule, Mission Impazible, and Convocation.

“I know on numbers we match up with them,” Jones said. “When we step out on the track, we’re going to match up with them. If we want to make a case with her being Horse of the Year, we ought to take on the boys now.”

Havre de Grace, a daughter of Saint Liam, has won 6 of 12 starts. She began her year with a 3 1/4-length victory over Blind Luck in the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn Park and followed that up with a win in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. She won the Grade 3 Obeah Stakes before getting beat a nose by Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap.

Jones was not the only trainer on the road Wednesday. While Flat Out arrived Tuesday, trainer Scooter Dickey was on his way to join his horse Wednesday morning. With his horse having a good race over the track and having trained well at Monmouth Park in the interim, Dickey liked the look of things entering the Woodward, even if his horse was relegated to 5-2 second choice.

“It looks all right,” Dickey said. “That’s why I’m driving 80 miles per hour to get there.”

Dickey arrived in time to learn that Flat Out drew post 7 in an eight-horse field entered for the Woodward, one of three Grade 1 races to be run Saturday. The Woodward and the Grade 1 Forego for sprinters will be televised live on Versus from 5-6 p.m. Eastern. The Personal Ensign Invitational will be run one race earlier, having been postponed after last Sunday’s card was canceled.

Jackson Bend draws rail for Forego

Trainer Nick Zito hopes to pull inside jobs in both the Woodward and Forego. Ice Box drew the rail in the Woodward, and Jackson Bend will break from the rail in the $250,000 Forego, which drew a field of nine.

While Zito didn’t mind the rail post for Ice Box, he was not happy that Jackson Bend will leave from the fence where a bad break can be costly.

“I don’t like the rail, but what are you going to do?” said Zito, whose horse ran a monster race from post 2 winning the James Marvin Stakes here opening day. “He came inside last time. If he breaks good, he’ll be okay, but they never usually do. He was in the gate today.”

Sidney’s Candy, who returns to dirt after winning the Grade 2 Fourstardave on turf, break from post 2 under John Velazquez. He will likely have to deal with pace pressure from Escrow Kid, who set the pace in the James Marvin and did well to hold third.

Others in the Forego include Golddigger’s Boy, Jersey Town, Hamazing Destiny, Aikenite, Regal Ransom, and Rule by Night.

Personal Ensign field remains intact

The post positions have changed, but the six names entered for the Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign remained the same when the race was re-drawn Wednesday. The Personal Ensign was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed when Tropical Storm Irene forced the cancellation of that day’s card.

Ask the Moon, winner of the Ruffian Invitational, will break from post 2 under Javier Castellano. She had originally been assigned post 3. Super Espresso, who finished second in the Ruffian, will break from post 5 after having originally drawn the rail.

Others entered include Acronym, Pachattack, Protesting, and Tiz Miz Sue.