Giving trainer Larry Jones his second victory in Saturday’s two stakes restricted to sophomores, Brereton Jones’s
Mr. Bowling rallied from
just behind the early leaders to gain the advantage in upper stretch and
then withstood a late bid by Zayat Stables’
Z Dager and capture the 68th running of Fair Grounds’
Grade III Lecomte Stakes by a head on the New Orleans oval’s
Road to the Derby Kickoff Day.
After winning Saturday’s
$125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes for 3-year-old fillies with Brereton Jones’s
Believe You Can earlier in
the afternoon, Jones saddled Mr. Bowling to win the Lecomte, first leg
of Fair Grounds’ three-race series for sophomores with designs on a
Triple Crown campaign later this spring.
Jones, a native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, flew briefly to Southern California Monday to accept
2011 Horse of the Year honors for Fox Hill Farm’s
Havre de Grace, and the
affable conditioner then put the icing on his banner week by winning his
second Lecomte Stakes in three years and his third in the last five.
Fox Hill Farm’s
Hard Spun won the Lecomte in 2007 and then went on to run second in the
Kentucky Derby that year. Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s
Friesan Fire won the 2009 Lecomte and went on to sweep Fair Grounds’ other two legs in its three-race local series, winning the
Grade II Risen Star Stakes in February before making it followed three straight in that year’s
Grade II Louisiana Derby.
This winter’s Risen Star Stakes will be run on
Feb. 25 as part of Fair Grounds’
Louisiana Derby Preview Day program. The 99th running of the
Derby will be contested on April 1, closing day of the
City oval’s 2011-2012 84-day session.
be honest, we thought (Mr. Bowling) was just starting to get good,”
Jones during the Lecomte winner’s circle ceremonies. “He’s maturing
at the right time. He really showed an affinity for this track when we
got down here. I can tell he liked it better than anywhere we’ve been to
this point. He pretty well got himself ready. Having Believe You Can,
they’ve been work mates. They got each other
ready and it paid off.”
Robby Albarado, a
seven-time jockey champion at Fair Grounds in past seasons, made his
move aboard Mr. Bowling in upper stretch, gaining a one-length lead at
the furlong grounds and then holding the colt together
late with strong urging.
figured if I could get him clear turning for home, and give him a
chance to run home he would,” Albarado said. “When that horse (Z Dager)
ran to him late, he gave me some second effort.”
Z Dager, never far back, launched his bid in the final furlong to gain
the runner-up spot by a half-length from Jerry Namy’s
Shared Property. Z Dager paid $4.80 and $3.60, and Shared Property returned $3.80.
Photo: Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.