Larry Jones is just like any other parent: He hates to see his kids compete against each other.
Jones, a highly successful, locally based trainer, said he looks at all the horses he trains as his children, and he will have to watch three of them compete against each other among the 10-filly field in Saturday’s Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
“They all are like my children and I really just root for all of them,” Jones said. “Luckily, they’ve got them pretty spread out with two on the outsides and one in the middle. But they’ve all trained well up to this point and they’re doing well. We’ll just see which one of the three can have a good trip.”
Although Jones said his allegiances will be equally split among his three “children” in Saturday’s race, the one filly out of his group that many will be looking at is the 2015 Silverbulletday Stakes winner I’m a Chatterbox.
I’m a Chatterbox dominated the field from gate-to-wire last time out, but Jones said the filly’s starting position in Saturday’s race may put her at a disadvantage.
“We’ve drawn the worst possible post with her on the outside,” Jones said. “We’ve just got to overcome that post, but she’s been training well. We just hope she can have a good trip and not lose too much ground on that first turn.”
While I’m a Chatterbox may be the one getting the most attention heading into Saturday, Jones said he believes his other two entrants in the race, Lovely Maria and White Clover, have a great chance at coming away with the win as well.
“I think with the way they’ve run this week, it wouldn’t surprise me if any of them won,” Jones said. “On any given day, any one of them can outrun the other two.”
Among some of the other notables entered in the race are Grade I winner Angela Renee, multiple-stakes winner West Coast Belle and Forever Unbridled, who finished second to I’m a Chatterbox at the Silverbulletday Stakes.
The Rachel Alexandria has produced four of the past 10 Kentucky Oaks winners.
Risen Star Stakes
Leading the pack among a 10-horse field full of Kentucky Derby hopefuls for Saturday’s Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes will be Mike Maker-trained International Star.
International Star, who is owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, is coming off his most recent win at the Fair Grounds in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 17 will be looking to add his third graded-stakes victory of his career.
Both horses that finished second and third to International Star in the Lecomte, War Story and Tiznow R J, will be looking to get another crack at the son of 2001 Kentucky Derby Winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
Kent Desormeaux will be mounting War Story from post six and Tiznow R J will be starting from the two-post, the same place he started the Lecomte.
Headlining the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap will Grade I winner Majestic Harbor.
The 7-year-old returns to the Fair Grounds for Saturday’s race, which is the place where he pulled off his first career win, but he finished sixth and ninth, respectively, in his past two starts in New Orleans. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be riding the two-time local winner.
Some of the other notables competing in the Mineshaft include the Larry Jones-trained Hard Aces, who won the Louisiana Handicap on Jan. 17 and multiple graded-stakes winner Nates Mineshaft, who won the Mineshaft in 2012.
Fair Grounds Handicap
After a second-place finish in last year’s race, Calumet Farm’s Skyring returns for another run at the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap.
The 6-year-old, who won last year’s Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial, hopes that a win in Saturday’s race can put him in position for a run at back-to-back win at Muniz — the marquee turf race of the season.
Skyring’s biggest competition will most likely come from Shortleaf Stable’s Trace Creek, who is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade II $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup on Jan. 24. The 5-year-old will be ridden by Chris Landeros.