Jones has strong duo for Delaware Oaks

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Jim Dun­leavy

Trainer Larry Jones will have the home-field ad­van­tage when he sends out two of the eight run­ners in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks on Satur­day.

Jones, who is based at Delaware Park dur­ing the sum­mer, plans to run both Lovely Maria, the win­ner of the Ken­tucky Oaks in her last start, and White Clover, the win­ner of the Our Mims, the lo­cal Delaware Oaks prep.

Lovely Maria, who comes into the Delaware Oaks off two straight Grade 1 wins – she won the Ash­land at Keeneland two starts ago – will be a heavy fa­vorite. Jones is us­ing this race to get her to the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 22 at Saratoga. Jones and owner Br­ere­ton Jones fol­lowed a sim­i­lar but slightly dif­fer­ent sched­ule in 2008 with Proud Spell.

“This path worked for us in the past, and we are hop­ing we can get the same re­sults,” Larry Jones said.

Fol­low­ing her Ken­tucky Oaks win, Proud Spell had a night­mare trip in the Mother Goose in late June and was dis­qual­i­fied from sec­ond to third. She then won the Delaware Oaks and Alabama and was named cham­pion 3-year-old filly.

Ker­win Clark will be aboard Lovely Maria when she starts from post 5 as the 122-pound high­weight. She will con­cede four to six pounds to her seven ri­vals.

White Clover is 2 for 2 at Delaware. She won an al­lowance in May and then turned back Grade 1 win­ner Peace and War in the Our Mims.

“White Clover is a pretty good horse,” Jones said. “She’s come to hand late, but I’m hop­ing she’s the horse Lovely Maria needs to beat.”

Jones has given the mount to Michael Ritvo.

Peace and War will be mak­ing her sec­ond start for trainer Graham Mo­tion. She showed im­proved tac­ti­cal speed in the Our Mims, moved boldly to take the lead from White Clover en­ter­ing the stretch, but fin­ished sec­ond, 1 1/2 lengths be­hind the win­ner. Peace and War shipped in from Bri­tain last fall to win the Grade 1 Al­cib­i­ades at Keeneland.

The field also in­cludes the fourth-, sixth-, and eighth-place fin­ish­ers from the roughly run Acorn Stakes – Dan­za­trice, Bar of Gold, and Calamity Kate; the 2-for-2 Hip Hop N Jazz; and Mi­laya, who fin­ished fifth in the Our Mims and has won a maiden race.

Par x Rac­ing: Ri­valr y in Dash

The Grade 3, $200,000 Parx Dash on Satur­day is a must-see race – it’s Round 3 of the Ben’s Cat–bold Thun­der–amelia’s Wild Ride ri­valry.

In the Penn­syl­va­nia Gover­nor’s Cup at Penn Na­tional on May 30, Amelia’s Wild Ride beat Ben’s Cat by a nose. It was a neck back to the light­ning-quick Bold Thun­der. In the Jim Mckay Turf Sprint at Pim­lico on May 15, Ben’s Cat beat Bold Thun­der by a neck. It was 3 3/4 lengths back to Amelia’s Wild Ride in third.

For good mea­sure, Bold Thun­der beat Ben’s Cat by three lengths when he shook loose on the lead in a Pim­lico al­lowance race April 17.

Fac­tor in that Ben’s Cat, 9, has won the Parx Dash the last three years and fin­ished sec­ond, beaten a head, in 2011.

There are some new play­ers in the 11-horse field. Power Alert is 3 for 5 in the United States since be­ing im­ported from Aus­tralia. He won the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Ken­tucky Oaks Day. Stor­mofthe­cen­tury al­ways hits hard at this level. He tuned up for this with a sev­en­fur­long al­lowance vic­tory at Moun­taineer.

Bel­mont: Wicked Strong on turf

Wicked Strong did not find a soft spot in which to make his turf de­but in Satur­day’s $150,000 For­bid­den Ap­ple Stakes at Bel­mont Park.

Among his seven ri­vals in the one-mile overnight stakes are King Kreesa, a two-time Grade 3 Poker Stakes win­ner; Reload, un­de­feated in three turf

tries; Grand Arch, a Grade 2 win­ner; Aztec Brave, a listed stakes win­ner at Aqueduct; and Vy­jack, a re­spectable sec­ond in his turf de­but in the Poker. Howe Great and Choctaw Chuck com­plete the field.

Wicked Strong, the win­ner of the 2014 Wood Me­mo­rial and Jim Dandy Stakes, is seek­ing to change his for­tunes, hav­ing not won a race in nearly a year. He is win­less in three starts this year, in­clud­ing a fifth­place fin­ish in the Grade 1 Metropoli­tan Hand­i­cap on June 6.

“I know he got creamed leav­ing there, but he didn’t re­ally look like he was get­ting into it af­ter that,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said about the Met Mile. “I don’t re­ally know what that was about.”

Jerkens said this turf race is “some­thing we’re try­ing to get him go­ing.”

“It doesn’t seem like he has quite the com­pet­i­tive spirit he had last year, for some rea­son,” Jerkens said.

Wicked Strong was beaten only a length in the Gulf­stream Park Hand­i­cap in March to be­gin his year. He broke out in skin dis­ease just prior to his third-place fin­ish to sta­ble­mate Effinex in the Grade 3 Ex­cel­sior in April.

Wicked Strong, who drew post 6 in the eight-horse field for the For­bid­den Ap­ple, is re­unit­ing with Ra­jiv Maragh, who was his reg­u­lar rider be­fore be­ing re­placed by Joel Rosario for the Met Mile.

Ar­ling­ton: Mil­lion Preview Day

The year has started some­what slowly for Work All Week, one of two graded stakes per­form­ers for the sprawl­ing Mid­west Thor­ough­breds op­er­a­tion of Rich and Karen Papiese. But the other Mid­west star of 2014, The Pizza Man, popped back into ac­tion this sea­son in ex­cel­lent form, win­ning the May 30 Open­ing Verse Stakes here by 2 1/2 lengths. Off that per­for­mance and last year’s form, he is one of the fa­vorites Satur­day in the Ar­ling­ton Hand­i­cap.

The Ar­ling­ton Hand­i­cap is one of four turf stakes on Mil­lion Preview Day, along with the Mod­esty, the Amer­i­can Derby, and the Stars and Stripes. All are Grade 3 races and carry a purse of $100,000. For the money, at least three of the stakes, ex­clud­ing the Amer­i­can Derby, came up pretty tough and fairly deep. The first, sec­ond, and third fin­ish­ers in the stakes have en­try fees waived for cor­re­spond­ing Mil­lion Day races – the Mil­lion, Bev­erly D., Sec­re­tar­iat, and Amer­i­can St. Leger. The Ar­ling­ton turf course, which is in great shape, could be wet Satur­day, with rain pos­si­ble Fri­day and into Satur­day.

The Pizza Man won the Amer­i­can St. Leger over about 1 11/16 miles on the Mil­lion Day card last year, but his con­nec­tions have de­signs this year on the Mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Rich Papiese. The Pizza Man was crossen­tered in the Ar­ling­ton Hand­i­cap over 10 fur­longs and the Stars and Stripes over 12 but is more likely for the Hand­i­cap.

“The Hand­i­cap is more likely, but ei­ther way, it’s prob­a­bly a prep for the Mil­lion,” said Papiese.

Third be­hind The Pizza Man in the Open­ing Verse was De­part­ing, who re­turned to win the Fire­cracker at Churchill, flat­ter­ing The Pizza Man.

The oth­ers in the Hand­i­cap are Coco Mon, Dram­edy, Looks to Spare, Middleburg, Quiet Force, R Great Ad­ven­ture, Triple Threat, Up With the Birds, and Yan­kee Dealer. Dram­edy is cross-en­tered in the Stars and Stripes and is ex­pected to run there. Yan­kee Dealer also has an en­try in the Stars and Stripes. Up With the Birds, fourth in the 2014 Mil­lion, was third in the Dixie at Pim­lico in his 2015 de­but and should be well sup­ported.

The en­trants in the Mod­esty, for fil­lies and mares over 1 3/16 miles, are Gaga A, Honey Lake, Lots o Lex, Mango Diva, Notte d’oro, Over­heard, Ri­poste, Rock Me Mama, Seek­ing Trea­sure, and Walk Close. Ri­poste would have swamped this bunch in her top 2014 form, but she’s been a shadow of her best this sea­son. Gaga A, a Uruguayan-bred im­ported from France, won her North Amer­i­can de­but in listed-stakes com­pany last out in Cal­i­for­nia for trainer Neil Drys­dale.

There’s an over­abun­dance of stakes races in the 3-year-old turf di­vi­sion, and the Amer­i­can Derby suf­fers ac­cord­ingly. A field of seven, headed by Crit­ten­den, Nun the Less, and World Ap­proval, was en­tered in the nine-fur­long race.

The Stars and Stripes drew Afort­able, Cal­va­dos, Cas­tled­erg, Dram­edy, For Greater Glory, Mis­ter Marti Gras, Ro­man Ap­proval, The Pizza Man, Three Hearts, Xtra Luck, and Yan­kee Dealer. Dram­edy won the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland last out, while Xtra Luck cap­tured the Grade 3 Louisville at Churchill in his last race.

The stakes go as races 5-8 on the Satur­day card, and all are in­cluded in a 50-cent pick four wa­ger.

Los Alami­tos: Great Lady M. Stakes

Five stakes win­ners this year are among the eight fil­lies and mares pro­jected to start in Satur­day’s $200,000 Great Lady M. Stakes at Los Alami­tos. The Grade 2 race at 6 1/2 fur­longs is led by War­ren’s Veneda, the win­ner of the Grade 1 Santa Mar­garita In­vi­ta­tional at Santa Anita in March, and Sun­day Rules, who is un­beaten in five starts.

The other run­ners are Ama­ranth, Fan­tas­tic Style, Har­ling­ton’s Rose, Legacy, Liv­ing the Life, and Ra­mona’s Wild­cat.

Ama­ranth, trained by O.J. Jau­regui, scored a 43-1 up­set win in the Desert Stormer Stakes at six fur­longs June 14 at Santa Anita. Fan­tas­tic Style won her first stakes by 3 1/4 lengths May 16 in the seven-fur­long An­gels Flight at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baf­fert, Fan­tas­tic Style is the lone 3-year-old among the ex­pected starters in the Great Lady M.

COADY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Peace and War, who won the Grade 1 Al­cib­i­ades last year, will face Lovely Maria and White Clover in the Delaware Oaks.

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