Last season it was Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can who parlayed a win in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks to another in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks a few weeks later for trainer Larry Jones
. Four years ago it was that same owner’s Proud Spell who pulled off that same graded Oaks double for that same trainer.
But with the Jones-trained duet of Susan Knoll’s Blue Violet and Bret Jones’s Dancinginthecircle third and fifth, respectively, in last Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes as the final prep for the upcoming $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 30, is the trainer now somewhat limited in his potential possibilities for another Oaks double?
Check again after this weekend, when Fox Hill Farms’ Smitten
goes to the post in Saturday’s $75,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial Stakes over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
That race for sophomore fillies is slated for about 7 1/2-furlongs over the local lawn but may be transferred to the main track due to recent rains in southeastern Louisiana.
However, that yet-to-be decided detail won’t matter to trainer Jones.
“We entered her this morning – turf or dirt,” said Jones Wednesday of Smitten, who missed the Rachel Alexandra when his Tapit filly had to lose a week of training due to a minor issue. “We need to run in this race (LaCombe Memorial) if we’re going to make it to the Fair Grounds Oaks with her. She’s been training well since that little setback. She went five-eighths (1:02.60) last Sunday.
“She didn’t run bad in the one race she did run on grass,” said Jones. “It was the first start of her career back at Keeneland last fall, and she broke slow, but once she got going (from last in the 12-horse field) she rallied on the outside and closed very well to get fourth. Hopefully, this race Saturday will put us right back into the Oaks picture.”