Irene forces Havre de Grace to miss final Woodward work
Hurricane Irene forced trainer Larry Jones to cancel a planned workout for Grade 1 star HAVRE DE GRACE (Saint Liam), the four-year-old filly sensation who will be taking on males in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward S. (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday.
"We'll just gallop into it," Jones said early Monday afternoon. "We normally would have breezed today and of course there was no training today at Delaware Park."
Asked if he would consider trying to squeeze in another work, Jones said, "I doubt it. Hopefully, we'll get on the track tomorrow. If we don't get it going, we may ship up tomorrow to Saratoga. I really don't know."
Havre de Grace, owned by Fox Hill Farms, opened her racing season with three straight victories, in the March 19 Azeri (G3) and April 15 Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn Park and then in the June 11 Obeah S. (G3) at Delaware Park. In her next start out, she finished a nose behind her archrival Blind Luck (Pollard's Vision) in a sensational running of the July 16 Delaware H. (G2).
With winning Horse of the Year the goal, Havre de Grace has been pointed toward the Woodward, where she is facing a strong line-up tentatively featuring multiple Grade 2 hero MISSION IMPAZIBLE (Unbridled's Song) and recent Birdstone S. winner RULE (Roman Ruler) for trainer Todd Pletcher; Suburban H. (G2) winner and Whitney H. (G1) runner-up FLAT OUT (Flatter) for trainer Charles Dickey; multiple Grade 1 winner GIANT OAK (Giant's Causeway) for trainer Chris Block; multiple Grade 3 scorer MAMBO MEISTER (King Cugat) for Phil Gleaves; multiple Grade 2-placed CONVOCATION (Pulpit), a recent allowance winner at the Spa at the Woodward distance for Jimmy Jerkens; and last year's Florida Derby (G1) victor and Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up ICE BOX (Pulpit) for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.
"It is what it is," Jones said of the assembling field. "We've got to go out and see what we've got. It's too early (to discuss strategy). We'll fly by the seat of our pants."
Monmouth Park escapes Hurricane Irene's fury
Monmouth Park was reported in fine shape following two days of cancellations as a result of Hurricane Irene, which passed over the 65-year-old facility in Oceanport, New Jersey.
"We were extremely lucky," said Bob Kulina, vice president and general manager of Monmouth. "A couple of downed trees and some branches, but that's it.
"Our preparations and the great work of the staff here led to little damage to our property and the safety of everyone that calls Monmouth Park home."
Those preparations included setting up the Monmouth Park grandstand as a shelter for backstretch workers. Anyone who resided in barns one through six were forced to evacuate in advance of the storm, while all other backstretch residents were under a voluntary evacuation.
The detention barn was to be used for horses whose stalls may have flooded, but no horse had to be moved as a result of Irene.
In addition, the movement of more than 100 umbrella tables that dot the picnic area, as well as hundreds of televisions being covered or moved helped to minimize or eliminate potential damage.
"There were 250 plus backstretch workers that came over to the grandstand," Kulina said. "The food that would have fed the groups here on Saturday was instead used to feed those who weathered the storm in the grandstand.
"I truly couldn't be more pleased with the effort put forth by everyone here at Monmouth. From security to the caterers, everyone stepped up in advance of a situation that could have been far worse. Yes we were lucky, but just as important, we were prepared."
As previously planned, the racetrack was closed for training on Monday morning to ensure that all debris was removed. Training will resume on Tuesday morning.
Monmouth Park opened as scheduled for simulcasting on Monday with live racing to continue as planned on Friday for a four-day holiday weekend. Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. (EDT), with first post set for 12:50 p.m.
The 2011 racing season runs through November 6.
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