Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace began her 2012 campaign with an easy gallop in the New Orleans Ladies at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Photo: Lou Hodges Photography
Sent off as the overwhelming favorite at 1-10, the 5-year-old mare faced only four foes in the 1 1/16 mile ungraded stakes race. Havre de Grace was ridden by regular jockey Ramon Dominguez. Juanita, under jockey Rosie Napravnik, was second, and Sterling Madame and jockey James Graham were a distant third. Final time was 1:42.79.
had a great trip," said winning rider Ramon Dominguez. "My main purpose was to try to keep her out of
trouble. She was ready to run, as usual with all Larry Jones’ horses
coming off of the layoff. She seems like she was definitely much the
best on paper and she proved to be so today. I
thought it was ‘mission accomplished’ first race back and she did
saved some ground going into the first turn and down the backside. I
had a chance to get her in the clear and get her going and from then on
she was on cruise control. When it
was time to go I had to tap her a few times and she got into gear and
it was easy from then on.”
Havre de Grace hadn't raced since her 4th-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic last November. Trainer Larry Jones based his stable at Fair Grounds this winter, and chose to start his champion in the New Orleans Ladies instead of the G3 Azeri at Oaklawn. He sent 4-year-old filly Joyful Victory to Oaklawn to contest the Azeri Stakes, where she finished 3rd behind Tiz Miz Sue.
after looking at the time, 1:36, you don’t see many of those here at
Fair Grounds, said winning conditioner Larry Jones. "So apparently she was pretty ready and we felt like she
was. I felt like she was better prepared this year than last year and
she ran big last year."
never seen Ramon scrub her and as soon as he scrubbed her she responded
instantly and I knew at the end we had the horse we needed.
it was a little more obvious after watching the Oaklawn race today. I’m
sure she will have to go try and defend her title (in the Grade I Apple
always good to get the first one out from under you, get the cobwebs
dusted off. And the time of the race – I haven’t seen a lot of 1:36
miles here this meet so it shows she’s
Havre de Grace was sired by 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam and is owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms. She has now banked over $2.5 million in 16 lifetime starts.
The New Orleans Ladies has been a notable race despite its ungraded status. Havre de Grace is the second Horse of the Year to begin her seasonal campaign in the race - the first was 2009 champion Rachel Alexandra, who was second in her 2010 return.