Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace is likely to make her 2012 debut in the March 17 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, owner
Rick Porter said Friday,
reversing course on a previous announcement that the mare would travel
to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., for the Grade III Azeri Stakes the
Porter posted a statement on the
Fox Hill Farm website, RockportHarbor.com, saying he and trainer
Larry Jones reconsidered after further discussions with Fair Grounds officials.
“Larry and I discussed the change and felt it was worth staying in
since she had been training there very well,” the statement said. “She
is used to the track, is travelling nicely over it and we avoid shipping
a horse of the caliber of Havre de Grace.”
Although the conditions of the New Orleans Ladies have not changed, Fair Grounds did add a stipulation that the
purse would be bumped from $100,000 to $150,000 if a multiple Grade I winner starts.
“If this adjustment helps to attract a mare like Havre de Grace for
New Orleans racing fans then it’s the right decision,” said Fair Grounds President
Tim Bryant. “After talking it through with Eric (Halstrom,
Fair Grounds Vice President and General Manager),
we’re already thinking that this tweak could become permanent. From a
timing standpoint, our race is the perfect springboard to major stakes
at Oaklawn and Churchill Downs, and our hope is that we’ll continue to
see champions start their campaigns at Fair
Grounds year after year.”
The New Orleans Ladies was created for the 2009-2010 season as a comeback spot for 2009 Horse of the Year
Rachel Alexandra, who was upset in that race by Zardana. Last year’s New Orleans Ladies was won by Ravi's Song.