NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, February 11, 2012) – One day after reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace accomplished her first official work of the 2012 racing season, her trainer Larry Jones was sounding increasingly positive that the Fox Hill Farm color bearer would run her first race of the year in New Orleans.

“We would like to get Havre de Grace’s first race right here,” Jones said, speaking from the Fair Grounds barn area during training hours Saturday morning. “That way we wouldn’t have to ship her or anything like that.”

Target races on the radar for Havre de Grace at the Crescent City oval are the $100,000 New Orleans Ladies on March 17 as well as the $400,000 Grade II New Orleans Handicap on April 1, although the March 17 $150,000 Grade III Azeri at Oaklawn Park also remains a possibility.

Havre de Grace was officially clocked for the first time this winter going three furlongs in 37.80 Friday morning with exercise rider Jen Brasser in the saddle, so Jones was asked if the mare could be ready to race as soon as March 17.

“It won’t take her long from here, trust me,” said Jones, who has been galloping her almost daily since the mare’s arrival at Fair Grounds on Jan. 5. “She gets ready pretty quick. I found that out last year. This time last year we didn’t have her up to anything like a half-mile and the first time we tried to work her at a half-mile she went 53 and four (fifths). She galloped out in 51 and change yesterday. We’re already ahead of last year.

“She’ll probably get on an every-five-or-six-days work schedule and she’ll get ready pretty quick,” Jones said. “Probably on a five-day schedule unless it rains. She’ll be steady now.

“That cool weather or something has got her really bouncing around here this morning,” Jones concluded as the Horse of the Year walked the shed row Saturday. “She’s been going around here on two legs.”