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Racing At The Jersey Shore

Is Havre De Grace the Best Larry Jones Trained Horse Ever?

Havre De Grace wins 2011 Azeri.

This past July Fourth weekend I was at Monmouth Park for the Salvatore Mile and the United Nations Stakes and Larry Jones was there to saddle a few of his horses. That day his three year-old filly Canadian Mistress convincingly won the sixth race. In the Salvator Mile Friesan Fire was working on his comeback and Jones and his wife, Cindy, were watching the race on one of the televisions by the grandstand tunnel where I like to hangout.  After congratulating the friendly Jones on his filly’s victory he said that their goal for her is the August 13th Monmouth Oaks.  That is a race that he has won the past two years with Just Jenda (2009) and No Such Word.


That conversation got me thinking about all the success that Jones has had in the past 10 years.  Thus, I decided to make a Top 5 list of the best horses trained by Larry Jones.  In the chart you can see 10 of Jones’ top runners with their Horse Racing Nation rating, career earnings, and total graded stakes victories.  Of course you can find details of their racing careers by searching the HRN Wikis and I encourage you to make use of that awesome resource.


Recently Jones compared Havre de Grace, who is about to have another showdown with Blind Luck in the 2011 Delaware Handicap, to Hard Spun and Eight Belles. “It’s very possible that she is the best. Hard Spun was very special and had he been born in a different year I think he would have been even more of a star. And Eight Belles was special too. Who knows what she could have been. But this mare, she might be better than any of them. We won’t know until it’s finished, but we’re looking forward to seeing where she takes us.”


Here are my Top 5 Larry Jones trainees, revealed in Late Show style.  In position 5 is Eight Belles. I agree completely with Jones when he said that there is no telling how great she could have been.  Hopefully her death on Kentucky Derby Day 2008, will continue to bring to positive changes in racing.


Number 4 is Havre de Grace. She has already established her greatness with 4 graded stakes wins and over $1.3 million in earnings.  By the end of this racing year she could be in the top slot.


The boys move into the rankings with Hard Spun in the number 3 spot.  He had a fantastic 3 year-old campaign in 2007, with three graded stake wins including the King’s Bishop. He placed in the Kentucky Derby, Haskell, and Breeder’s Cup Classic and finished third in the Preakness.  He ended his career with over $2.6 million in earnings.


The top two spots go to the Jones trainees that have won a Horse of the Year Award. Kodiak Kowboy gets the number 2 position.  Jones shared the training of Kodiak Kowboy with Steve Asmussen. Asmussen had him in the beginning and the final two races of his career. In 2009 Kowboy won the Eclipse Award for Male Sprinters off the strength of his wins in the Vosburgh and Cigar Mile in his final 2 races. Kodiak Kowboy was one of those horses that always zigged when I zagged.  When I bet him his patented closing rush was not enough and when I didn’t bet him he was guaranteed to win.


Ranked in the Number 1 slot is Proud Spell.  She finished in the money in all 13 of her starts including three year-old wins in the Kentucky Oaks, the Alabama, and the Delaware Oaks. Proud Spell earned over $2.1 million in her career.  She won the 2008 Eclipse Award for Three Year-old Fillies.  On a visit to breakfast at Saratoga that year, I was resting on the rail of the paddock when Larry Jones, who was atop Proud Spell, came over and struck up a conversation.  He asked how I was enjoying my visit to the track.


Larry Jones is one of the good guys of racing.  I have been lucky to chat with him a couple of times.  After his tough times with Eight Belles and his health problems, it is great for racing and for Larry Jones to have a horse like Havre de Grace. 


What do you think the Jones Top 5 should be?  Be sure to share your list because at Horse Racing Nation we love to give you the opportunity to be part of the discussion.



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Older Comments about Is Havre De Grace the Best Larry Jones Trained Horse Ever?...

Hey, it is fun to look back at this question seven months later. Clearly now the answer is YES, HDG is the best horse Larry Jones has ever trained.
Proud Spell - Hard Spun - Grace - Eight Belles - Jenda
we never really know about Eight Belles either
Hard Spu never won a race a foot over 9 furlongs
Proud Spell produced her first foal in the spring, a filly out of Indian Charlie, and was then bred to Medaglio D'oro.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • crazymomof4 · MD was not "cooperative" according to Larry. So she was bred to Tiznow for her 2nd mating instead. · 2090 days ago
  • crazymomof4 · In touch with Airdrie just now. Her Tiznow foal was another filly and she's currently in foal to Bernardini and due in early April. I'm a Proud Spell fan in case you hadn't guessed. LOL · 2090 days ago
Proud Spell - Hard Spun - Grace - Eight Belles - Jenda
And Hard Spun is off to a great start as a sire with a Group 2 SW in Europe with a $15,000 Keeneland purchase.
  • crazymomof4 · I saw somewhere that Hard Spun was JUST edged out of first place by Scat Daddy in the leading freshman sire list for '11. The #3 sire was waaay behind! · 2090 days ago
Hard Spun is #1, Havre de Grace #2
Does the Del Cap results change how you rank The Jones horses?
Just watched a Hard Spun yearling filly sell for $115,000 at FTK.
Great piece Matt! I'd vote for Hard Spun. I think he performed a very high level, probably at a distance he didn't prefer (1 1/4 miles) by finishing 2nd in the KY Derby & BC Classic. He was super quick as evidenced by his King's Bishop win, but could carry it a classic distance. He should be a truly great sire.
My rankings are similar to Matt's. 1) Proud Spell 2) Hard Spun 3) Havre De Grace 4) Eight Belles 5) Kodiak Kowboy
I think Hard Spun was easily his best runner so far, the 2007 crop was incredibl and he more than held his own. Havre de Grace 2nd for me, Proud Spell 3rd, Eight Belles and then Kodiak Kowboy.
My top five 5. Eight Belles- we don't know how good she really would have been. 4. Wildcat Betty B- Somewhat overlooked since she was a sprinter while the others where two turn horses. 3. Island Sand- If she hadn't run in the 05 Delaware Handicap and if it wheren't for a tornado at Ellis, I doubt Larry would even be at Delaware. 2 (shared). Havre de Grace and Kodiak Kowboy- the only reason why Grace is not co #1 with who the two other horses that I think are #1 is because she has only been with Larry for 3 starts so far. KK, well he's an Eclipse winner even though he spent a good portion of his career with Asmussen. 1 (shared). Hard Spun and Proud Spell- honestly even with Barbaro and Afleet Alex, these two have been the best horses that have come out of DP. Sure the latter two won TC races, but Proud Spell was one determined filly and I was honored to see her win the DE Oaks in person. Hard Spun, what heart that guy had, another horse I saw in person (I actually skipped most of my math class to see his Port Penn win).
Actually Just Jenda is my favorite because of her great efforts at Monmouth, but she is not Top 5 material.
Great analysis, Matt! I do however, need to disagree with your order. I will go with: 1) Hard Spun 2)Havre De Grace 3)Eight Belles 4)Proud Spell 5)Kodiak Kowboy.
This should be a great race! Im loving that they are not ducking each other!!

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Meet Matt Shifman

In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.


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