Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Orleans Ladies (Havre de Grace)

Jockey Ramon Dominguez (Havre de Grace, winner): “We had a great trip. My main purpose was to try to keep her out of trouble. She was ready to run, as usual with all Larry Jones’ horses coming off of the layoff. She seems like she was definitely much the best on paper and she proved to be so today. I thought it was ‘mission accomplished’ first race back and she did great.

“We saved some ground going into the first turn and down the backside. I had a chance to get her in the clear and get her going and from then on she was on cruise control. When it was time to go I had to tap her a few times and she got into gear and it was easy from then on.”

Did you hear the applause before you reached the wire? “I did. As we were coming into the winner’s circle everybody was telling Larry and Rick Porter, ‘Thank you for bringing her here.’ That’s what it’s all about – the fans and horses like her.”

Trainer Larry Jones (Havre de Grace, winner): “Well, after looking at the time, 1:36, you don’t see many of those here at Fair Grounds. So apparently she was pretty ready and we felt like she was. I felt like she was better prepared this year than last year and she ran big last year.

“I’ve never seen Ramon scrub her and as soon as he scrubbed her she responded instantly and I knew at the end we had the horse we needed.

“Well, it was a little more obvious after watching the Oaklawn race today. I’m sure she will have to go try and defend her title (in the Grade I Apple Blossom).”

“It’s always good to get the first one out from under you, get the cobwebs dusted off. And the time of the race – I haven’t seen a lot of 1:36 miles here this meet so it shows she’s back fully.”

Do you have an idea what will be next? “We’ll wait and see, but Joyful Victory ran third up there in the Azeri so it looks like we’re going to have dig a little deeper in the well if we’re going to go to the Apple Blossom. It looks like we may have to go with the first string, but we’ll see. As I’ve said, a lot of it depends on what kind of weight they’re going to make her tote. I don’t care how much she totes; I just don’t want a big spread. I’m not giving anybody 12 pounds. I’ve got to go up and get Joyful Victory tomorrow and we’ll see if we see an excuse and if we do we may reassess again.”

How’d you get word about the Azeri (which went off about 10 minutes before the New Orleans Ladies)? “It happened that just as I turned her loose with the pony (for the post parade) they were just hitting the wire on HRTV (on the network’s monitor set up in the winner’s circle). It looked like we were a winner turning for home but we may have got out-footed. She ran well. The horse that she barely beat here, Ravi’s Song, we put a lot on. You just don’t know in horseracing.”

Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms (Havre de Grace, winner): “Ramon put it best – ‘It was the perfect mission accomplished.’ She did it as easy as we’d hoped. You know, Larry’s got her further along than she was this time last year and she does everything so easy. The minute Ramon asked her she just couldn’t wait to run. She seems to do anything anyone asks her to do. As Larry says, she doesn’t have any flaws.”

Did she look any different today than the last time you set eyes on her in person? “Not really, she just looked fantastic. Her coat, her weight, everything looked the same as when I saw her at the Breeders’ Cup.”

What would you like to accomplish with her campaign this year? “I would like to win as many big Grade I races as possible. We’ll pick our spots, we’ll watch what the racing secretaries are going to do to her. I feel comfortable she can run against the boys anytime we need to. I’d jus tlike to get her through the year healthy more than anything and running the way she did today we’ll win plenty of races. And best of all would be to be back here next year as a 6-year-old.”

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