Trainer Larry Jones had Joyful Victory
out to enjoy the majestic view of Santa Anita on its sun kissed track Friday morning after arriving from Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. yesterday afternoon.
Both Starstruck, a 4-year-old chestnut filly, and Joyful Victory, a 5-year-old gray mare, are on hand for Saturday’s Rodeo Drive Stakes and the Zenyatta Stakes, major preps for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Nov. 1 and 2.
Each won her last race at Monmouth, Joyful Victory the Grade II Molly Pitcher by 7 ½ lengths and Starstruck the Grade III Matchmaker by a length and a quarter. It was the first stakes start in the U.S. for the Irish-bred Starstruck.
“They just kind of went and saw the sights, just loosened up,” Jones said of his star equine females’ leisurely Friday morning excursion.
Jones has high praise for the other female star in his employ, jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has ridden Joyful Victory in her last four races, three of them victories, including the Grade I Santa Margarita Invitational here last March.
“She fits Joyful Victory so well,” Jones said. “This filly’s just been a different horse with Rosie. I think other riders tried to tell Joyful Victory what they wanted to do and I think Rosie says, ‘OK, let’s just go out here and we’ll do whatever comes up,’ and I think that really works.”
Starstruck is owned by Calumet Farms, which in its prime and under different ownership more than half a century ago was the premier name in American racing, with Triple Crown champions Citation and Whirlaway leading a plethora of champions and major stakes winners. Legendary trainers Ben A. Jones and later his son, H.A. (Jimmy) Jones, called the shots then.
“Calumet and Jones. Once upon a time they were good names that went together,” Jones said with a chuckle. “We had all the horses we wanted to train, but I got a little selfish taking Starstruck (she’s only had four U.S. starts. She was trained by Dermot Weld in Ireland).
“This horse came along and I said, ‘Calumet and Jones had worked before. Let’s just see if it’ll work again.’”
So far, so good.