01/07/2009 1:00AM

Southwest possible for Old Fashioned

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NEW ORLEANS - Fair Grounds opens its racetrack for training at 5:30 a.m., and Wednesday morning it was pitch dark, chilly, and breezy at that hour of roosters and Bourbon Street stragglers. But Old Fashioned is a horse worth getting up for, and it was but moments after the start of training that Larry Jones gave his 3-year-old Kentucky Derby hopeful Old Fashioned his first work of 2008, a half-mile breeze that was timed in 48.20 seconds.

"He just stretched his legs," Jones said during Wednesday's track renovation break. "He went really nice."

At the break, Jones didn't even know how fast Old Fashioned had worked. A fast time was nothing close to the point of this exercise, yet Old Fashioned's was the second-fastest of 27 half-miles on Wednesday.

Now, the question turns to where Old Fashioned, the undefeated blowout winner of the Remsen Stakes, will make his 3-year-old debut. And though Old Fashioned is perfectly comfortable training at Fair Grounds, and will be here at least through the end of January, Jones said, he could be shipped to Oaklawn for a start in the Feb. 16 Southwest Stakes.

Jones said he'd like to have a horse for the Risen Star Stakes here on Feb. 7, and is hoping Friesan Fire - who runs here Saturday in the Lecomte - or It Happened Again could be that horse. If neither pans out, Old Fashioned could step in, but Jones cited a $100,000 purse cut in the $200,000 Risen Star as one reason the $250,000 Southwest could be more appealing. But even if Old Fashioned did start off in the Southwest, Jones said it's possible he could return for the $600,000 Louisiana Derby on March 14.

Proud Spell to race in 2009

While Old Fashioned sits at the top of the Jones stable's list of 2009 3-year-olds, the barn's most accomplished 3-year-old of 2008, the filly Proud Spell, will return for another year of racing, Jones said Wednesday.

Proud Spell last raced Sept. 20 in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park, and was thought to be retired to life as a broodmare after a 2008 campaign that could easily land an Eclipse Award. But about two weeks ago, Jones mentioned that owner Brereton Jones wasn't entirely pleased with the way Proud Spell was adapting to life away from the racetrack and on the farm, and was considering another year of racing for the filly.

That thought has turned to reality, with Proud Spell walking under tack in Kentucky and set to rejoin Jones's string at Fair Grounds once all remnants of the equine herpesvirus outbreak here have passed.

"She's officially back in training," Jones said. "They said she wasn't happy before, but now she is."

Jones said that the April 4 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn would be the first major goal for Proud Spell, who won the Kentucky Oaks last year.

Long and short of Carroll's chances

Trainer David Carroll has a 3-year-old filly for the Tiffany Lass Stakes and a 3-year-old colt for the Lecomte Stakes here Saturday, but questions of distance hover over both of them. Is the two-turn, one-mile Tiffany Lass too far for Selva? And is the one-mile Lecomte too short for Au Moon?

Carroll won the Lecomte with Fire Slam in 2004, a good season for his barn, but 2008 probably was Carroll's best among 17 years as a trainer. His stable earnings of more than $1.7 million were his most ever, and Carroll may have a decent group of horses lined up for 2009, especially after laid-off Denis of Cork and the good filly Acoma rejoin his string later this meet.

Selva won her career debut at Saratoga, captured the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth, and finished her 2-year-old campaign with a win in the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine. All were one-turn races, and with a sprinter's pedigree and a compact frame, Selva does not seem like the most natural stretch-out candidate. Still, owners Helen Groves and Helen Alexander want to give the filly a chance, and Carroll has trained her accordingly since Selva came to Fair Grounds. Selva's last three works all were slow, with the emphasis on getting Selva to relax, Carroll said.

As for Au Moon, his career got off to a slow and disappointing start with a 10th-place finish in a seven-furlong Keeneland maiden race on Oct. 15.

"He misbehaved terribly in the post parade," said Carroll. "It was surprising, because he just lost it, and he's not that kind of horse."

Back six weeks later in a two-turn Churchill Downs maiden race, Au Moon pressed a really slow pace from an outside post, and drew off to win by almost six lengths.

"He finished up real nice, and he won with his head bowed," Carroll said.

Carroll thinks Au Moon will run all day, and is using the Lecomte as a jumping-off point for what his connections hope will be bigger and better things. Jockey Julien Leparoux likes the colt enough that he will fly in from his Gulfstream base to ride Au Moon on Saturday.