Trainer Larry Jones was disappointed when Hinkle Farms' Stave came a head shy of winning her first career stakes in the $75,000 Ellis Park Turf on July 7. But the 4-year-old filly gets another crack at becoming a stakes-winner in Sunday's $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf.
“It was close. It was a good race,”Jones said after Stave had to settle for second in a three-horse photo won by Sensitive. “We're going to have to be happy, I guess. We had intended to win, but we didn't make it.”
The mile Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf is one of five $100,000 grass races staged Sunday as Kentucky Downs Preview Day. The stakes are positioned as stepping stones to big-money races at Kentucky Downs' lucrative five-date meet. Funding for the five stakes purses, along with another $4.5 million in purses and Kentucky-bred supplements, was generated at Kentucky Downs and transferred to Ellis Park in an agreement with the Kentucky HBPA, the horsemen's association representing owners and trainers at both tracks.
Stave shouldn't have to contend with Sensitive on Sunday, as that mare is expected to wait for the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf on Sept. 7. But Valentine Wish, third in the Ellis Park Turf's mad dash to the wire, is considered probable for Sunday's stakes.
Jones had taken a conservative approach with Stave, running in a pair of allowance races at Churchill Downs before getting serious about stakes competition.
“She's doing well, and that was just her third race coming off the long winter layoff,” he said Monday morning at Ellis Park. “She's about as good as we're going to be able to get now, so she's good to go. We're looking forward to that, and hopefully that will serve as a prep for the Kentucky Downs race.
“It's a wonderful thing,” Jones said of Ellis Park's Kentucky Downs Preview Day, which is in its second year. “It does get everybody ready for Kentucky Downs. I think they (the tracks) have worked together very well getting this program together. It's really enticing.”
Entries for Sunday's racing program will be taken and the fields drawn on Thursday.
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