Unbelievably in tune – that was the way Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can returned from her layoff of more than seven months to capture the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Last year’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks and Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks heroine looked every bit as good in her first start as a 4-year-old – which she won by 10 ¼ lengths in front-running fashion – as she did during last year’s Oaks parlay, and Fair Grounds’ listed $150,000 New Orleans Ladies March 9 may well be next up on her dance card.
“She was ready,” said trainer Larry Jones in the winner’s circle after the Tiffany Lass, and the Hopkinsville, Ky., native had been indicating as much in recent days after a series of his filly’s bullet works. “She was getting herself ready a lot quicker than we anticipated so we had to really stretch her works apart. Instead of five days, she’d be working every 14, 16 days. She was ready to go in early January and we just had to wait for this race.”
Believe You Can’s regular rider, Rosie Napravnik, once again in the irons after becoming the first female jockey in history to win the Kentucky Oaks last year, was quick to agree.
“She’s been training great,” said Napravnik. “I anticipated her comeback race and I thought she’d be really ready today.”
Believe You Can paid mutuels of $2.40 and $2.10 in the Tiffany Lass, which had no show wagering, and accomplished the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1.44.68 after ticking off early splits of 24.12 and 48.48. The daughter of Proud Citizen increased her career earnings to $1,149,484 with her seventh lifetime win in 11 trips to the post.
Coffeepot Stables’ Imposing Grace finished second, paying $2.20, while 2 3/4-lengths in front of Merrill Scherer and Dan Lynch’s Myriad.
COR COR ROUTS RIVALS IN INAUGURAL BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
Steve Ballou and Harriet Waldron’s Cor Cor went on the offensive as soon as she left the gate and routed all seven of her rivals in Saturday’s inaugural running of Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Battle of New Orleans for 3-year-old fillies at about 5 1/2-furlongs over a yielding Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Racing on grass for the first time in her career, the daughter of Smoke Glacken broke in stride, made the pace throughout and cruised home 4 1/4-lengths in front of Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Gator Zone, who finished a length and a half to the good of Feel The Thunder Stable & Scott Unter’s My Princess Dawn.
“She won, so I’m happy,” said trainer Joan Scott, who was returning to New Orleans for the first time since 2003. “I felt it was the right spot for her to come over here for this race. Now I can go out and celebrate in New Orleans tonight before I head back to Florida tomorrow morning.”
Rosie Napravnik was aboard Cor Cor for the first time and completed a sweep of the day’s two stakes events.
“I’ve watched her replays and she is one of the quickest horses out of the gate that I’ve ridden,” Napravnik said. “She drifted out in the stretch a little bit, which I’ve seen that she’s done that a little bit in some of her previous races, but she handled the turf well and she ran a big race.”
Cor Cor, who paid $3.80, $3 and $2.10, toured the distance in 1:04.86 after establishing early fractions of 22.04 and 44.24, and was coming off a runner-up finish in Gulfstream’s Grade III Old Hat Stakes on New Year’s Day after winning Tampa’s $68,000 Sandpiper Stakes before that. The Florida-bred filly increased her career earnings to $135,800 with her third win – but first on turf – from four lifetime trips to the post.
“It’s kind of nice that she was able to win on the turf today,” said Scott. “It gives us another set of options in the future. However, I do think we’ll keep her going short.”
Gator Zone returned $4.20 and $2.80 in the second spot, and My Princess Dawn paid $3.20 for the show.
Race 9- $75,000 Battle of New Orleans
3-year-old fillies, About 5 ½ furlongs on turf, inaugural running
Jockey Rose Napravnik (Cor Cor, winner): “I’ll tell you what, I’ve watched her replays and she is one of the quickest horses out of the gate that I’ve ridden. She just is super-fast.
“She drifted out in the stretch a little bit, which I’ve seen that she’s done that a little bit in some of her previous races, but she handled the turf well and she ran a big race.”
Trainer Joan Scott (Cor Cor, winner): “She won, so I am delighted. I just felt that this was the right spot for her. I like the distance for her and it suited us at the time.”
Next? “Celebrate for a day or two and go from there.”
Race 7- $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes
Fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, third running
Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Believe You Can, winner): “She’s been training great. I’ve been getting on her all the time and just anticipating the comeback and she was all business today. Very focused. Her last breeze was very impressive and, you know, I thought she was really set up good for today. So, it was a great first race back.”
Did you have to use the whip? “Not at all.”
Trainer Larry Jones (Believe You Can, winner): “You know, she was getting herself ready a lot quicker than we anticipated so we had to really stretch her works apart. Instead of five days, she’d be working every 14, 16 days. She was ready to go early January and we just had to wait for this race.”
Will we see Joyful Victory or Believe You Can in the (March 9, $150,000) New Orleans Ladies? “I am sure you are going to see one of them here. The other one (Joyful Victory), I guess, will head to the West Coast (for the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita on March 16). There are two coasts and we will keep them apart as long as we can. Hopefully the first time they meet will be the Breeders’ Cup.
“They’re going to have to twist my arm to make me go to the Apple Blossom. I see no reason to go to Oaklawn. There are races across this country. Joyful Victory will go to California and this filly will probably be here for the New Orleans Ladies, I would say, and then we’ll see. Possibly she would go to Churchill for Derby Week (the Grade II, $300,000 La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day, May 3).”
NOTE: Jones won this race last year with Joyful Victory…Napravnik won the inaugural running of this race in 2011 with Wicked Deed…The race known as the Tiffany Lass up to 2010 is the race now known as the Silverbulletday Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Tiffany Lass name was reassigned to this race that was introduced in 2011.