Here’s the complete field in post-position order, from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, owner): Sterling Madame (James Graham, Tom Amoss, Paul and Andrena Van Doren); Havre de Grace (Ramon Dominguez, Larry Jones, Fox Hill Farms); Annabel Lee (John Jacinto, David Schwartz, David and Sarah Schwartz); Distorted Love (Richard Eramia, Helen Pitts, A D K Racing); and Juanita (Rosie Napravnik, Mike Maker, William and Graydon Patterson).
Larry Jones, trainer of Havre de Grace, reacted to the post draw by phone: “It works for me. It really didn’t matter to us. As I’ve always said, she’s one of those that I don’t have to worry about things with. She does whatever we need her to do. She doesn’t care. You always worry about being race-ridden, but she really, truly can handle whatever’s thrown at her.”
The New Orleans Ladies is for fillies and mares, 4-year-old and up, at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
Havre de Grace was named Horse of the Year for 2011 on the basis of five wins, three of which came in Grade I events. One of those was against top older males in the Woodward at Saratoga. The 5-year-old mare has been working toward this race since arriving at Fair Grounds in early January. She last raced in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, finishing fourth in that $5 million contest.
Sterling Madame has won two consecutive races gate-to-wire over the Fair Grounds main track. The 4-year-old filly has won three of six overall and will face stakes company for the first time.
Juanita finished third in last month’s $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes won by Joyful Victory and second in January’s $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial won by Cherokee Queen.
Distorted Love finished fourth in the Tiffany Lass. The 6-year-old mare won twice in allowance company at Churchill Downs last spring.
Florida-based Annabel Lee ships in for the second time this meet, having finished fifth behind Daisy Devine in the opening weekend $75,000 Pago Hop on turf. The 4-year-old filly finished off the board in two subsequent turf starts at Tampa Bay Downs.
Havre de Grace will become just the third reigning Horse of the Year to race at Fair Grounds, joining legends Whirlaway, winner of the 1942 Louisiana Handicap, and Rachel Alexandra, second in the inaugural New Orleans Ladies in 2010.
The New Orleans Ladies will be run as Race 9 at 4:50 p.m. CDT. First post for the 11-race card is 12:40 p.m.