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Jul 10, 2015

Lovely Maria returns in Delaware Oaks


Stanton, DE ( - Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria is the even-money favorite versus seven rivals for Saturday's $300,000 Delaware Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at Delaware Park.

Trained by Larry Jones for Brereton Jones, Lovely Maria will start the 1 1/16- mile Oaks from post 5 with her regular jockey Kerwin Clark. Saturday's start will be her first since claiming the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 1.

"She is here and she is ready to go," said Larry Jones. "Everything looks good right now. I am not saying we got her cranked up to 110 percent or anything, but surely we think she is ready and good to go. We are ready to kick off the second half of the year campaign starting right here. From here, we are thinking the Alabama and from the Alabama, if we are still doing well, we are just going try to figure out how to get to the Breeders' Cup."

Lovely Maria has a career record of four wins and three seconds from eight starts with earnings of $973,000.

Trainer and owner teamed up to win the 2008 Oaks with eventual 3-year-old filly champion Proud Spell.

"After winning the Kentucky Oaks, Proud Spell used the Delaware Oaks as a springboard before winning the Alabama and then eventually the Eclipse Award," Larry Jones noted.

Larry Jones will also saddle 5-1 second choice White Clover in the Oaks. Owned by Calumet Farm, the filly will be ridden by Michael Ritvo from the favorite's immediate outside. Clark was aboard White Clover when she won Delaware Park's Our Mims Stakes last month.

"I have been really happy with her as well and she is coming into the Oaks great," the trainer said. "Which one is the best? I do not know. We are just going to have to find out on Saturday. She runs on the front end, but she is starting to be able to relax a lot better which showed in her last race. She showed she could come from off a five-furlong race and win going a mile and seventy in her next start which shows she is pretty versatile. The great thing about that five-furlong race was that they went so fast in that race, that she had to come from off the pace. In the Our Mims, she was the fastest horse, but she relaxed a lot better. She will rate here Saturday and she will be very formidable."

White Clover notched her first career stakes victory in the Our Mims and raised her record to three wins from eight starts with earnings of $102,830.

Here is the field for the Oaks in post position order: Hip Hop N Jazz, Brian Pedroza, 10-1; Milaya, Kendrick Carmouche, 15-1; Bar of Gold, Alex Cintron, 10-1; Danzatrice, Trevor McCarthy, 8-1; Lovely Maria, Kerwin Clark, even; White Clover, Michael Ritvo, 5-1; Calamity Kate, Edgar Prado, 12-1 and Peace and War, John Velazquez, 6-1.

The Delaware Oaks has an approximate post time of 5:45 p.m. ET.

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