The first horses in Oaklawn's new Havre de Grace barn are, fittingly, for Larry Jones, who trained the 2011 Horse of the Year and a multiple stakes winner in Hot Springs. The Havre de Grace barn was one of six new barns built this year.
“Good to be back,” Jones said Saturday morning. “Kind of like setting us up here for some kind of reason. It feels right at home.”
Jones said he will eventually have 25 horses on the grounds, with his stable headed by Grade 1 winner Street Band. One of the country's top 3-year-old fillies of 2019, Jones said Street Band is training at Fair Grounds in preparation for her seasonal debut in the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) Jan. 26 at Sam Houston. The race, Jones said, is Street Band's scheduled steppingstone to the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares March 14 at Oaklawn. The Azeri is the final major local prep for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 18.
“Street Band will be here as soon as the Houston Ladies Classic is over,” Jones said. “With the Apple Blossom being $1 million dollars, we damn sure want to get a race over the track and hopefully be ready.”
Street Band won 4 of 8 starts in 2019, highlighted by the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in March at Fair Grounds and the $1 million Cotillion (G1) in September at Parx.
Asked if he believed Street Band could be a major player in the older female dirt division in 2020, Jones said, “We sure hope so.”
Midnight Bisou won the Houston Ladies Classic, Azeri and Apple Blossom in 2019 to help secure an expected Eclipse Award as the country's champion older dirt female. Havre de Grace launched her 2011 Horse of the Year campaign with victories in the Azeri and Apple Blossom for owner Rick Porter (Fox Hill Farms).
Jones said Porter will be represented by Whoa Nellie in the $100,000 Pippin Stakes Jan. 25, which is Oaklawn's first of three major preps for the Apple Blossom. Whoa Nellie, a daughter of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, had a 3-1-2 record from seven starts in 2019 and earnings of $150,630. The 1-mile Pippin will mark the 4-year-old and stakes debut of Whoa Nellie.
“It's time to have to get in there,” Jones said. “She's coming around. She won at Turfway two weeks ago and did that the right way – sat back and made her little run and won easy. We're hopeful.”
Jones said another 3-year-old filly of 2019, Istan Council, will also be pointed for stakes races at Oaklawn. She ran fourth in the $150,000 Purple Martin Stakes last year in Hot Springs.
“It seems like this year we got bombarded with so many grass horses,” Jones said with a laugh. “It's like, 'Man, what the hell are you doing? You know I don't train grass horses.”
Jones won 8 of 38 starts in 2019 at Oaklawn. His meet was highlighted by Super Steed's victory in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.