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Breeders' Cup 2017

Havre de Grace is almost there

The champ is back … almost. Signaling that she is very much ready for her appointment in next week's New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds, Havre de Grace looked fantastic working three-quarters of a mile this morning. Alongside her multiple stakes winning stablemate, Joyful Victory, she was timed in 1:11 2/5 at the New Orleans oval, with regular exercise rider Jen Brasser aboard. Watching the video of the work, (below) it appears that Havre de Grace is not only ready for her seasonal debut in twelve days, but that she looks very much like the same sensational mare who became the third consecutive female to be named America's Horse of the Year.


The trainer of both mares, Larry Jones, galloped about 100 yards ahead of the workmates before the real running started and watched the action from his pony.


“With her fitness level, we’re there,” Jones said. “We’re where we want to be.”  


It was easy to see why Jones feels so good about the Fox Hills Farm star. On the inside of Joyful Victory, Havre de Grace easily sped through splits of :11 1/5, :23, :35 and :46 3/5. As the pair came down the stretch, the champion edged ahead and crossed the finish line a neck in front in :58 2/5. She then worked an eighth past the wire to register the six furlong bullet, while never seeming to turn a hair. Joyful Victory was officially timed for the five furlongs while galloping out three-quarters in 1:12 1/5.


“It was good for both horses,” Jones said afterward. “It’s kind of like letting Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen go out and play one-on-one; it just helps them both to get better.”


I think I know which one Jones would be comparing to Jordan.

The extra furlong for the champ was designed to give her just a little bit extra foundation in advance of her first start in more than four months.

“Havre de Grace is so fooling, when she’s really rolling along the riders think they’re not going fast enough,” Jones said. “Jen came back and said she felt like she was just galloping. So we put Joyful Victory out there kind of like a pace car because we know that Joyful Victory is plenty fast. Havre de Grace will get a little more aggressive with another horse there. Jen thought she did the 58 and 2 for the five-eighths easier than she had done the 59 the week before but it’s because the adrenaline’s pumping and she’s on the bit a little more.”


When last seen, Havre de Grace ran a competitve, but slightly disappointing fourth against the males in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Today's was her fifth timed work since returning to training in early February. Jones plans to get in one more breeze before the New Orleans Ladies, most likely Monday.


Meanwhile, Robby Albarado was in the irons on Joyful Victory this morning, who also looked good, if not slightly overmatched, and will avoid her star stablemate by heading to Oaklawn Park for the March 17 Azeri Stakes.


Seems like a good plan, assuming we see the same Havre de Grace this year. Bringing back champion females off a winter off is not always a simple task, as sometimes they tend to lose a little focus and interest in racing, and simply are not as good as they were they the year(s) before. Zenyatta and Goldikova were wonderful exceptions to this phenomena, and after seeing Havre de Grace glide around the track this morning, I have every hope that she will be as good (or better) than ever.


Courtesy: Churchill Downs Simulcast Productions


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Older Comments about Havre de Grace is almost there...

indeed cocoa and not only that acclamation crushed game on dude in the pacific. acc is best horse in the nation at this moment by far.
she won today in facile fashion in prep for the apple blossom. was no competition for her today. and #1 horse gave her 2#??
Such a treat to have the big ones return, given that racing campaigns are so short anyway. And to have her as queen. Very special.
It'll be excited to see what type of campaign they have mapped out for her. I hope she faces the deep male handicap division on a regular basis this year.
Can't wait to see her run again!
The best horse in the nation GOD? I don't know how you can say he is better Acclamation. I would really enjoy seeing them knock heads.
  • stevebiscuit · At a mile and a quarter on dirt, Game On Dude is better than Acclamation. If Havre De Grace couldn't catch GOD in last year's Classic at Churchill, she sure is heck isn't going to at Santa Anita. · 2058 days ago
Havre de Grace is such a gorgeous mare! Look at her @ 2:09 just stunning. My dad said it best when I pointed her out while watching the Breeder's Cup "She's too pretty to run!"
Great to have the Horse of the Year ready to run another year!
I sure hope she's ready to carry that staggering 117 pounds, against nobodies, in a non-graded stakes! She may be the HOTY, but the best horse in the nation is Game On Dude. Now that's a Michael Jordan.
Agree completely, a mere stroll for her. A very nice video of her and Joyful, many thx.
Woo whee! Grace made that look like nothing more than a walk in the park. If I hadn't known what her time was, I never would have guessed it was as fast as it was because she made it look effortless.

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