Larry Jones Is Back In The Game
LARRY JONES BACK IN THE GAME
Larry Jones, who had been among America’s leading trainers the past decade, announced Nov. 11 that he will officially come out of self-imposed retirement and take over the reins of the barn which has been in the hands of his wife, Cindy, for the past year.
Jones will bring a string of horses to Oaklawn Park in November and begin readying his horses for the live season at Oaklawn, which begins Jan. 14.
Returning from the stable of horses trained by Cindy Jones over the past year will be multiple stakes winners No Such Word and Payton d'Oro.
Larry Jones will add to the stable a strong group representing Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, the owner which provided him with Old Fashioned , a resident 3-year-old star at Oaklawn in 2009 when he won the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), the finished second in both the Rebel and Arkansas Derby (both gr. II).
Among the horses Jones is expected to have in his barn is Havre de Grace, third-place finisher in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, and Winslow Homer, considered the top 3-year-old barn in the Fox Hill Stable this year.
One year earlier, Jones was the talk of the racing world when he saddled Eight Belles to a record win in the Martha Washington Stakes, followed by a score in the Honeybee (gr. III) and Fantasy Stakes (gr. II). He then opted to have her take on males, and she finished second to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), only to suffer a fatal injury following the race.
Shortly thereafter, Jones began to prepare for retirement, but has been clearly present in the operations of Cindy Jones’ stable in recent months and many anticipated his return in the near future.
“Cindy said it is her turn to retire,” Jones said jokingly in a release. “But I presume she’ll be around the barn a lot.”
Cindy Jones was listed as the owner of Just Jenda, a multiple stakes winner, who won the Honeybee in 2009. Jones announced that Just Jenda has been retired and will be bred this spring to Proud Citizen . Jones trained Proud Spell, the 2008 three-year-old filly Eclipse Award winner and another daughter of Proud Citizen.
“Cindy would like to get her own Proud Spell,” Jones said in a statement. “We look forward to being at Oaklawn in the next two or three weeks and I’m ready to get back into action.
Stall reflects upon Blame's success
Trainer Al Stall Jr. was back at his Fair Grounds barn Monday morning, two days after his star horse Blame upset the previously unbeaten mare Zenyatta in North America's richest race, the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). In a stretch run that's being described as one of the most thrilling ever, Adele B. Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm's Blame won by a head after holding off a late charge by Zenyatta. The Classic was the final race for Blame, who will enter stud at Claiborne Farm.
For Stall, a New Orleans native, the Classic was by far the biggest win of his 19-year training career. Sitting at a desk in the office of his Fair Grounds barn Monday, the 49-year-old trainer was still in awe of Blame's season, which also included Grade 1 wins in the Stephen Foster and Whitney.
"Everything has been great since around mid-April really, to be quite honest with you," Stall said. "That's when it was almost like a switch was flipped. You make a long-term plan for a horse and it usually doesn't work out, for a number of reasons -- either the horse's soundness or the fact that you think your horses are better than they really are."
Blame's 2010 campaign was mapped out by Stall and Claiborne Farm President Seth Hancock last December, a few weeks before Blame arrived at Fair Grounds to prepare for his four-year-old season.
"Seth sat right here at this desk about December 1 and said, 'Lead-up race, the Foster, the Whitney, the Jockey Club (Gold Cup [G1]), the Breeders' Cup, Horse of the Year, Claiborne Farm,'" Stall remembered. "That's what he said and that's what we're now very close to doing."
The debate over who should be Horse of the Year will rage on until the Eclipse Awards are announced January 17 in Miami. Zenyatta won five straight Grade 1 races against fillies and mares in 2010 and narrowly missed adding a second Classic. Blame, meanwhile, won four of five starts, topped off by Saturday's peak effort in the most important race of the year and his only head-to-head matchup with Zenyatta.
The lone blemish on Blame's 2010 record was a runner-up finish in the October 10 Jockey Club Gold Cup, when front-running Haynesfield (Speightstown) was allowed to dictate an unusually slow pace and cruised unchallenged to a four-length win.
"We were prepping for the Breeders' Cup but we were there to win, without question," Stall said. "He hadn't run in eight weeks and might have softened up on us a hair. And then the type of race and the way the track was configured for a mile-and-a-quarter (starting midway on the clubhouse turn at Belmont Park). It stung for a while, but we knew that the race served its purpose. The way he was training we knew he wouldn't go over the top. He just looked and trained like a good horse all the time."
The low-key Stall said there was no raucous celebration the night after Blame secured the $2.7 million winner’s share of the purse. Instead, the trainer and his family did the same thing a lot of racing fans did Saturday night -- they went home and watched the Classic replay a few more times on TiVo.
Stall will remain at Fair Grounds for the time being, overseeing a full barn of 50 horses preparing for the 139th Thoroughbred season that opens Thanksgiving Day, with the possible exception of a brief return to Churchill Downs if Super Derby (G2) winner Apart (Flatter) runs in the November 26 Clark H. (G1) against older horses.
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