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Mar 16, 2012

Havre de Grace odds-on to win New Orleans Ladies



New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Saturday's $150,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course features the 2012 debut of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. The five-year-old mare has been made the prohibitive 1-5 morning-line favorite versus four challengers for the 1 1/16-mile stakes.

This is the second time in the last three runnings of the race that the defending Horse of the Year is using it to make her seasonal debut. In 2010 Rachel Alexandra began defense of her crown in the New Orleans Ladies, but finished second to Zardana.

Havre de Grace, owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, has drawn post two in the five-horse field with her regular jockey Ramon Dominguez riding. The two-time Eclipse Award winner is trained by Larry Jones and ably assisted by his wife Cindy.

"You never know what's going to happen in horse racing," said Cindy Jones, "but we're expecting a winning performance from Havre de Grace this weekend. We're very excited about this race. Havre de Grace has a bull's-eye on her back -- there's no doubt about that, but that's to be expected considering what she's done in her career so far.

"That work she had Monday (five-furlongs in 59.60) was exactly what we were looking for. She did it real easy -- without being asked for anything extra, but we're very pleased with how it went and she came out of it real well."

The Ladies Classic will only be the champion mare's second start versus other females in her last four races. Last September she defeated males at Saratoga in the Woodward followed by a complete domination of fillies and mares, including Royal Delta, in the Beldame at Belmont Park. Havre de Grace was fourth to Drosselmeyer in the Breeders' Cup Classic to conclude her 2011 campaign.

Havre de Grace, also voted 2011 champion older female, won five of seven starts last year for more than $1.6 million and will go over the $2.5 million mark in career earnings with a Saturday victory.

Here is the complete field in post position order: Sterling Madame, James Graham, 8-1; Havre de Grace, Ramon Dominguez, 1-5; Annabel Lee, John Jacinto, 30-1; Distorted Love, Richard Eramia, 12-1 and Juanita, Rosie Napravnik, 5-1.

The New Orleans Ladies will be run Saturday with a 5:50 p.m. (ET) post-time.

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