This past July Fourth weekend I was at Monmouth Park for the Salvatore Mile and the United Nations Stakes and Larry Jones was there to saddle a few of his horses. That day his three year-old filly Canadian Mistress convincingly won the sixth race. In the Salvator Mile Friesan Fire was working on his comeback and Jones and his wife, Cindy, were watching the race on one of the televisions by the grandstand tunnel where I like to hangout. After congratulating the friendly Jones on his filly’s victory he said that their goal for her is the August 13th Monmouth Oaks. That is a race that he has won the past two years with Just Jenda (2009) and No Such Word.
That conversation got me thinking about all the success that Jones has had in the past 10 years. Thus, I decided to make a Top 5 list of the best horses trained by Larry Jones. In the chart you can see 10 of Jones’ top runners with their Horse Racing Nation rating, career earnings, and total graded stakes victories. Of course you can find details of their racing careers by searching the HRN Wikis and I encourage you to make use of that awesome resource.
Recently Jones compared Havre de Grace, who is about to have another showdown with Blind Luck in the 2011 Delaware Handicap, to Hard Spun and Eight Belles. “It’s very possible that she is the best. Hard Spun was very special and had he been born in a different year I think he would have been even more of a star. And Eight Belles was special too. Who knows what she could have been. But this mare, she might be better than any of them. We won’t know until it’s finished, but we’re looking forward to seeing where she takes us.”
Here are my Top 5 Larry Jones trainees, revealed in Late Show style. In position 5 is Eight Belles. I agree completely with Jones when he said that there is no telling how great she could have been. Hopefully her death on Kentucky Derby Day 2008, will continue to bring to positive changes in racing.
Number 4 is Havre de Grace. She has already established her greatness with 4 graded stakes wins and over $1.3 million in earnings. By the end of this racing year she could be in the top slot.
The boys move into the rankings with Hard Spun in the number 3 spot. He had a fantastic 3 year-old campaign in 2007, with three graded stake wins including the King’s Bishop. He placed in the Kentucky Derby, Haskell, and Breeder’s Cup Classic and finished third in the Preakness. He ended his career with over $2.6 million in earnings.
The top two spots go to the Jones trainees that have won a Horse of the Year Award. Kodiak Kowboy gets the number 2 position. Jones shared the training of Kodiak Kowboy with Steve Asmussen. Asmussen had him in the beginning and the final two races of his career. In 2009 Kowboy won the Eclipse Award for Male Sprinters off the strength of his wins in the Vosburgh and Cigar Mile in his final 2 races. Kodiak Kowboy was one of those horses that always zigged when I zagged. When I bet him his patented closing rush was not enough and when I didn’t bet him he was guaranteed to win.
Ranked in the Number 1 slot is Proud Spell. She finished in the money in all 13 of her starts including three year-old wins in the Kentucky Oaks, the Alabama, and the Delaware Oaks. Proud Spell earned over $2.1 million in her career. She won the 2008 Eclipse Award for Three Year-old Fillies. On a visit to breakfast at Saratoga that year, I was resting on the rail of the paddock when Larry Jones, who was atop Proud Spell, came over and struck up a conversation. He asked how I was enjoying my visit to the track.
Larry Jones is one of the good guys of racing. I have been lucky to chat with him a couple of times. After his tough times with Eight Belles and his health problems, it is great for racing and for Larry Jones to have a horse like Havre de Grace.
What do you think the Jones Top 5 should be? Be sure to share your list because at Horse Racing Nation we love to give you the opportunity to be part of the discussion.