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Jan 05, 2012

Eclipse Award finalist Havre de Grace in Big Easy



New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Horse of the Year candidate Havre de Grace has made her way to Fair Grounds Race Course where she will begin her 2012 racing season. The five-year-old mare had been stabled at Vinery Racing's Florida location near Ocala.

"She's just sleeping right now," trainer Larry Jones said a few hours after the mare arrived at the track early Thursday morning. "We haven't even had her out walking. We just walked her right to her stall and let her sleep. She looks good."

Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Havre de Grace is a finalist for the 2011 Eclipse Award as champion older filly and mare and is expected to be in the running as Horse of the Year.

"She's one of the few candidates with a winning record, and we could have kept her undefeated if we'd picked some easier spots for her," Jones said on Wednesday, referring to Havre de Grace's two losses in 2011. "We could have run her in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic like we did the year before. We'd beaten Royal Delta (2011 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner) by eight- lengths in the Beldame but we thought our horse deserved the chance against male rivals (in the Breeders' Cup Classic, where she finished fourth after being bumped).

"Earlier last summer in the Delaware Handicap (when Havre de Grace was second by a nose to Blind Luck) I didn't like the weights and I thought about scratching her, but we felt we owed it to the Delaware people to go ahead and let her run."

Jones is based at Fair Grounds this winter and mentioned on Wednesday that is where his mare will open her five-year-old campaign.

"At this time, we're more than likely to point her for the New Orleans Ladies," said Jones. The $100,000 stakes is set for Saturday, March 17.

Havre de Grace won five of seven starts in 2011 for more than $1.6 million. She won the Apple Blossom and Azeri at Oaklawn Park followed by the Obeah, Woodward and Beldame.

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