NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, March 15, 2012) – Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace will make her long awaited 2012 debut Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots when she goes to the post as the prohibitive favorite in the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies, becoming the second Horse of the Year in the last three seasons to use that Crescent City stakes test for older fillies and mares for her return to competition.

Havre de Grace, who has breezed six times at Fair Grounds since February 10 in preparation for her return, has accomplished all those moves impressively, never being asked for much but twice being timed in the fastest work of the morning at the distance.

The 5-year-old bay mare, owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and trained by Larry Jones, has been away from competition since finishing fourth against male rivals in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic last Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. She was bumped during the running of the Classic but was only beaten three lengths for the win despite that troubled trip. Earlier last fall she had beaten male rivals in Saratoga’s Grade I Woodward, and her victories against members of her own sex last year included wins in Belmont’s Grade I Beldame and Oaklawn’s Grade I Apple Blossom.

Defending Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, Havre de Grace’s regular rider, will journey to New Orleans for the mount Saturday on Havre de Grace, who has been installed as the 1-5 morning line favorite for the New Orleans Ladies.

Havre de Grace will be facing four rivals, with her most serious challenge expected to come from William and Graydon Patterson’s Juanita, a daughter of Mineshaft who was third in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Tiffany Lass last time and runner-up in the $75,000 Marie Krantz Memorial here before that.

Trained by Mike Maker, Juanita will be ridden by Fair Grounds’ defending rider champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik and has been pegged at 5-1 in the early line for the New Orleans Ladies.

Paul and Andrena Van Doren’s Sterling Madame will be the 119-pound high weight in the New Orleans Ladies field and has been slated at 8-1 in Fair Grounds’ richest test of the season for older members of the distaff set. The homebred, conditioned by nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss, will be ridden by James Graham, currently second in Fair Grounds rider standings. The 4-year-old filly is undefeated at Fair Ground this season, winning her two local starts by a total of eight lengths

A D K Racing’s Distorted Love, a 6-year-old mare trained by Helen Pitts-Blasi who finished fourth in the Tiffany Lass, will be ridden by Richard Eramia and is 12-1 in the morning line, and David and Sarah Schwartz’s Annabel Lee, a supplemented shipper trained by her owner with John Jacinto up is pegged at 30-1.