Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can parlayed a win in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks to another in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks a few weeks later for trainer Larry Jones last year.
This year the daughter of Proud Citizen debuted with a 10 1/4-length tally in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 2, but her main objective of the winter is Saturday’s fourth running of the listed $150,000 New Orleans Ladies at the Crescent City oval, and the 4-year-old filly breezed a bullet five furlongs in 59.40 Monday morning in advance of that assignment.
“She worked very well Monday,” said Jones Wednesday morning during training hours. “She was really sharp. This is the race we have targeted all along for Believe You Can.
“As of right now, I’ve got (Brereton Jones’s) Young and Lovely (second in her most recent start her Jan. 18) and (Steed Jackson’s) Totally Tucker (first by 4 ¼ in her last Jan. 17) going in the race with her,” Jones said.
Less encouraging was a Larry Jones update concerning a pair of sophomore fillies he had penciled in for this year’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 30.
“I won’t say it’s an absolute impossibility that we would run (Fox Hill Farms’) Smitten in the Fair Grounds Oaks,” said Jones, “but at this point it looks like we would be chasing an improbable dream. She didn’t get a lot out of that race the other day ($75,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial) on that soft turf. Rosie (Napravnik) said she just kept going (sinking) down into that soft ground with those tiny little feet she has. Smitten would have to come back and show me some really good works between now and the Oaks for me to give the race serious consideration for her.
“As for (Wahoo Stable and Brereton Jones’s) Divine Happiness, she got hurt in her race on Sunday,” Jones said. “She wasn’t walking well at all after that race and we’ve had to send her to the clinic to try and find out exactly what’s wrong with her, but I’d say it’s more than likely that she’ll be away from racing for a long time.
“I guess our only horse likely for the Oaks now is (Susan Knoll’s) Blue Violet,” Jones concluded, speaking of the daughter of Curlin who was third in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Feb. 23.
RAY SALMEN, STAR GUITAR, E.J. PERRODIN INDUCTED INTO FAIR GROUNDS HALL OF FAME
The late New Orleans native horse owner Ray Salmen, Louisiana’s all-time leading money-winning Thoroughbred Star Guitar and Fair Grounds’ all-time leading stakes-winning jockey “Tee-Joe” Perrodin were all inducted into the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame in a reception held Monday evening in the Black Gold Room at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Sandra Salmen of Fair Grounds’ horsemen’s relations office accepted on behalf of her late father, who owned A Letter to Harry and Pago Hop.
“My father would have been especially pleased to know that the proceeds from this evening are going toward English classes for our backstretch workers,” said Ms. Salmen. “He was a man who embraced the entire family of the backstretch community and loved being a part of that community.”
Evelyn Benoit, who along with her husband Maurice Benoit raced Star Guitar under the banner of Brittlyn Stable, accepted on behalf of the horse who became Louisiana’s top money earner following his win in the $90,000 Costa Rising Stakes on Fair Grounds’ final program last season.
“This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me,” said Ms. Benoit during her acceptance speech for Star Guitar. “The horse was the result of every birthday gift I ever had. He lost his mother in the midst of the two biggest storms to ever hit Louisiana (Katrina and Rita) but he was an outstanding athlete with a great big heart.”
Jockey Kerwin “Boo Boo” Clark shared his recollections of his lifelong friend Perrodin.
“Tee-Joe never tooted his own horn,” Clark said. “He let his riding speak for him. I remember also that he always loved to do ‘crawfish boils’ to help people out when they needed help.”
However, it was Lisa Perrodin who remembered her husband’s special love of Fair Grounds and the memories they both had from the local oval.
“God put in my heart the things I wanted to share with you tonight,” Mrs. Perrodin said. “We left on our first date together right out of this parking lot and it was also right here that I went into labor with our son Devin. My husband always told me to watch how the ducks flew south in the winter, and that he wanted to follow the ducks all the way to Fair Grounds
“I can here him now saying, ‘There’s a lot of love in this room tonight, Lisa -- a lot of love.’”