NEW ORLEANS – Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace put in her last workout in advance of Saturday's $150,000 New Orleans Ladies this morning at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, breezing five furlongs in :59 3/5 with regular exercise rider Jen Brasser aboard.
The 5-year-old mare worked in company with an unraced 3-year-old filly, Just Jan, who went the same distance in 1:00 under Rosie Napravnik while breezing to the inside of Havre de Grace.
Due to short but heavy showers earlier in the morning, trainer Larry Jones decided to wait until after the renovation break ended at 8:30 a.m. to work Havre de Grace, as opposed to going out at her usual 6 a.m. slot.
Following a leisurely gallop up to the five-eighths pole in tandem, Napravnik and Just Jan broke off about a half-length in front of Brasser and Havre de Grace. The pair worked through splits of :12 4/5, :24 3/5, :36 2/5 and :48 2/5, with Havre de Grace hitting the finish line about a half-length in front.
"We didn't want her to work too fast," Jones said. "The beauty of it was she sat off just like we wanted her to, she wasn't too aggressive, she went right to the lead when she was supposed to. Mentally she's right where we want her. She's controllable and we know she's fast. She's ready to go."
The workmate, Jones explained, was necessary to help Brasser gauge how fast she was going, as multiple riders have been deceived by how easily Havre de Grace can tick off sub-12 eighths, especially when she is race-ready.
"I've had jockeys work her in 57 and 2 and think they've gone too slow," Jones said.
Brasser, the 28-year-old Dutch exercise rider who has been aboard for all of Havre de Grace's works this year, didn't ask Havre de Grace for anything and came back impressed by the move.
"She was really good," Brasser said. "She waited for me the whole way so I was really pleased."
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.
Entries for the New Orleans Ladies, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, will be drawn Wednesday.
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest racetrack, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 10 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 140th Thoroughbred Racing Season continues through April 1, 2012, highlighted by the $1 million Louisiana Derby for Kentucky Derby hopefuls on April 1. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.
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