Southwest Stakes third-place runner Adirondack King is feeling strong ahead of his latest Oaklawn go-round in Saturday’s $500,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) according to trainer John Servis.
“We are ready. Just one day to go,” said Servis Thursday morning while eyeing his 3-year-old son of Lawyer Ron.
Owned by the Marchfore Thoroughbred partnership, Adirondack King is looking to build on his Oaklawn debut where he finished “best of the rest” behind front-runners Secret Circle and Scatman in the second division of the Southwest Feb. 20. A winner of a restricted stakes last November at Parx Racing in Philadelphia, Adirondack King has been third in both his starts as a 3-year-old.
Servis is best known as the trainer of Smarty Jones, who swept across America in 2004 by taking all the Oaklawn prep races then claiming a $5 million bonus by winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) and came within a few feet of sweeping the Triple Crown. He says this colt has been training like the longer 1 1/16th-mile distance arrives at a great time.
“His last workout we just wanted to let him finish up well,” Servis said. “Just stretch his legs, because he’s pretty ready but I didn’t want him to gallop out so much. He didn’t give us much of choice, because it was still pretty strong.”
Adirondack King, who drew post 13 of 13 for the Rebel, will team with regular jockey Stewart Elliott in the Rebel.
The complete field for the $500,000 Rebel Stakes, in post-position order, with riders: Unbridled’s Note, Channing Hill; Scatman, Luis Quinonez; Cyber Secret, Robby Albarado; Optimizer, Jon Court; Jake Mo, Cliff Berry; Sabercat, Corey Nakatani; Secret Circle, Rafael Bejarano; Atigun, Terry Thompson; Reckless Jerry, Joe Rocco Jr.; Ring It Up, Lindey Wade; Pee H Dee, Israel Ocampo; Najjaar, Calvin Borel, and Adirondack King, Stewart Elliott.
‘Joyful’ & Jones Happy To Be Back At Oaklawn
A fabulous year for Fox Hill Farm and trainer Larry Jones was keyed by a tremendous four months at Oaklawn last winter. By the end of 2011, they had a Horse of the Year in Havre de Grace and a star filly on the comeback trail in Joyful Victory. Jones was back in Hot Springs Thursday hoping to kick off another great year with the latter filly looking like a standout in the $150,000 Azeri Stakes (G3) Saturday.
Jones and Joyful Victory galloped over the track for the first time since winning the 2011 Fantasy Stakes (G2), a score that propelled her to favoritism in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and a fourth-place finish. After bogging down later in the summer, the daughter of Tapit got a six-month break, and returned to the winner’s circle in the Tiffany Lass Stakes Feb. 11 at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
“We’re both real happy after galloping this morning,” said Jones Thursday while receiving a steady stream of familiar faces and congratulations. “The trip up went great and we are doing really well. We haven’t had to miss a beat for anything.”
Jones wanted to test drive Joyful Victory over the surface himself before returning to this year’s winter base in New Orleans. After initially pointing Havre de Grace to the Azeri to defend her title in the race, Jones and Fox Hill Farm’s owner Rick Porter decided to keep the champion there to run in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes. So Jones feels obliged to be there to saddle her, but his cautions against reading his confidence in his fillies based on where he’s working Saturday.
“It’s not like (wife/assistant) Cindy couldn’t handle (Havre de Grace),” said Jones. “It just wouldn’t look too good with the Horse of the Year, but I’d just as soon stay here and take care of Joyful Victory. She just loves it here so much and Oaklawn is such a great place to be.”
The team is taking a ‘one-weekend-at-a-time” approach with the two stars, and Jones doesn’t want to think ahead to scenarios involving the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) – a race Havre de Grace won last year. He does know, Joyful Victory and Havre de Grace will not race against each other anytime soon.
The complete field for the $150,000 Azeri Stakes, in post-position order, with riders: Absinthe Minded, Terry Thompson; She’s All In, Luis Quinonez; Ravi’s Song, Calvin Borel, Joyful Victory, Robby Albarado, and Tiz Miz Sue, Joe Rocco Jr.
“There’s plenty of racing across America that we can keep these two apart for as long as we need to,” said Jones. “I just know how much Joyful Victory loves this track and we can see how she matches up for races like the Apple Blossom.”