Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can, by most measures the most accomplished horse currently in training at Fair Grounds, parlayed a win in last year’s $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes to one in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks. Five weeks after that she won the Grade I Kentucky Oaks – becoming the fifth Fair Grounds Oaks winner of the last eight to accomplish that same prestigious graded Oaks stakes double.
However, now Believe You Can is moving closer to her first start as a 4-year-old – with Fair Grounds’ $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes Feb. 2 as the designated target – and on Thursday the Brereton Jones homebred breezed a bullet five furlongs in a minute flat over the local oval to indicate her readiness.
“She did OK,” said her trainer Larry Jones during training hours Friday morning. “I was pleased with the work because it was easy for her to do. That’s just the way she is. Actually, I had to back off on her for awhile there (the filly hadn’t worked previously since Dec. 21) because she was coming around too quickly for this race we have planned for her. Now, we’ll probably give her one more blowout and that will be it before the Tiffany Lass.”
SMITTEN SET FOR SATURDAY’S $125,000 SILVERBULLETDAY STAKES
During Saturday’s Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, trainer Larry Jones will saddle Fox Hill Farms’ Smitten in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes.
The Silverbulletday is the first leg of Fair Grounds’ three-race series for sophomore fillies that continues with the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes Feb. 23 and then concludes with the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 30.
Smitten broke her maiden at last asking going a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds Dec. 16 and Jones appeared pleased with her progress one day before her more difficult upcoming assignment.
“(Smitten) is doing well,” Jones said. “She’ll be stepping into some deep water in this race she has tomorrow, but it’s getting to be time for her to swim in these kinds of races or watch from the van.
“I do think she learned a lot in that last race,” Jones said, “and I’m very pleased with the way she’s been working lately (most recently an easy five furlongs Sunday in 1:01.20). Her training is coming pretty easily to her lately. She’s becoming more of a ‘push-button’ horse to train, but we’ll find out tomorrow if she’s ready to step up to the next level.”
STEWART TO SADDLE IRISH LUTE IN SILVERBULLETDAY; GOLDEN SOUL IN LECOMTE
Trainer Dallas Stewart will be in action in both of Fair Grounds’ stakes races for sophomores on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone.
The native of nearby McComb, Mississippi, will saddle Donarra Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old filly Irish Lute in Saturday’s $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes as an early local look at Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks candidates. One race later he’ll return to the paddock with Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul for Saturday’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes for 3-year-olds with designs on this year’s $1 million Louisiana Derby.
Naturally, Stewart is pleased with his potential for upcoming good fortune and was quick to express optimism during training hours Friday morning.
“Both horses are doing very well lately,” said Stewart, “and both are coming off good races and will be in good, competitive races tomorrow. I’m just glad all the bad weather we’ve had this week appears to be out of the way now and we should be able to see exactly where we stand with both of them under ideal track conditions.
“Originally, I thought Irish Lute would just be a sprinter, but she’s been laying off the pace a little bit in her last couple of races so we’re going to hope she can stretch her speed out a little bit tomorrow,” Stewart said. “As for Golden Soul, I think he’s going to be kind of a ‘longer the better’ type of horse.”
Both of Stewart’s sophomores are homebreds. Irish Lute was bred by Kevin Donahue of Donarra in Florida, and Golden Soul by diamond magnate Charles Fipke in Kentucky.