Back in July, before the Delaware Handicap, we had a lively discussion: “Is Havre De Grace the Best Larry Jones Trained Horse Ever?” I think it is time to revisit that question.
Just before the Woodward Stakes Larry Jones talked about Havre De Grace with Steve Byk on his satellite radio show, “At the Races”. Jones said,” People want to know why I think she is the best horse I have ever trained. It is because she doesn’t have a weak link. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and she just doesn’t have anything that stands out as a hole. She travels well. She eats well. She is very durable. She doesn’t have to have any particular pace scenario. She’s a very good individual.”
Jones also compared Havre De Grace to another one of his great fillies, “Proud Spell was very special, but we felt like that there were some things that she needed to have going her way. And I think this mare (HDG) can kind of make things happen her way.”
In July, I put great value on winning an Eclipse Award, the highest honor in thoroughbred racing. So, Proud Spell was my number one ranked Larry Jones horse, followed by Kodiak Kowboy. Thus far, those are Jones’ only winners of that honor. In third was Hard Spun and the Top 5 ended with Havre De Grace and Eight Belles.
Since then, of course, Havre De Grace won the Woodward duplicating what Rachel Alexandra did in 2009. (The race replay is posted on the HRN homepage.) In the process she earned a 111 Beyer Speed Figure while winning for the fourth time in five starts this year and notching her second grade one of 2011. Of course her only loss came to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap on July 16th.
Is Havre De Grace on the way to winning a Horse of the Year award? Jones and owner Rick Porter have made that their goal. Their plan was explained by Jones, “This (winning the Woodward) does not say, ‘O.K., you’re going to be Horse of the Year, but it at least gives her the opportunity to get up there. If she was to go win now either the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic or the Classic, you’ve got to say she’s done enough the rest of the year, you’ve got to consider her.’ ”
I agree with Larry Jones when he says that a win in the Breeders’ Cup will give Havre De Grace an Eclipse Award. Does Blind Luck need to be in that BC race in order to get the Horse of the Year award?
Is the victory in the Woodward enough to give Havre De Grace the distinction of the best horse J. Larry Jones has ever trained? Give us your thoughts as we revisit this debate.