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Mark Valeski Completes LA Derby Preparations

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski, one half of the favored Larry Jones-trained entry pegged at 2-1 for Sunday’s 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 Tuesday morning at Fair Grounds in final serious preparations in advance of the annual centerpiece event of the New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season.


“It was a very good morning for us (with Mark Valeski),” said the Kentucky-born trainer shortly after the move. “I got splits of 12 and three, 25 flat, 37 and two and 49 and one, and then got him galloping out in 1:13 and two. That means he did a 12 and two, another 12 and two, and then two 11 and fours, so he got the last quarter in 23 and change.”


Track clockers recorded the same splits as Jones, although they caught the gallop out in 1:14.


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“I like the way we’re coming into this race,” said Jones. “This has got us in a situation that we like to be in. He didn’t work quite as fast today as he did right before the Risen Star, but then again he went a little faster than I wanted the last time (a bullet five-eighths in 59.40 March 20). Also, this horse is a little further along than he was before the Risen Star.”


Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik, already assured of her second straight local title, was aboard Mark Valeski for Tuesday’s morning move and will ride the colt Sunday in pursuit of her second straight Louisiana Derby win.


Mr. Bowling (the other half of the Brereton Jones-owned entry and winner of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 21) worked yesterday (March 26 in 1:00.40),” said Jones, “so he just walked today. I like where we’re at with both horses.”


Seven-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Robby Albarado will ride Mr. Bowling in Sunday’s highlight.



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