Trainer Larry Jones said April 4 that despite rumors that Mark Valeski came out of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) with lameness, the horse is doing fine and is still being pointed toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the April 1 Louisiana Derby, Mark Valeski put himself in winning position turning for home but failed to run down 109-1 longshot Hero of Order, losing by a half-length under Rosie Napravnik. Jones said the son of Proud Citizen was limping after the race, but now is fine.
“Apparently he pulled a shoe in the post parade; Rosie said he didn’t warm up as well as he did for his last race,” Jones said. “Also, it looked like he also got hit on a back heel early in the race. But all is well now. He’s still on the Derby trail. If he has enough earnings he’ll go, if he doesn’t then we’re just going to take that as a sign that he wasn’t meant to run.”
By virtue of his second place finish in the $1 million Louisiana Derby, Mark Valeski earned $200,000 and now has a total of $260,000 in graded earnings. A homebred of Brereton Jones, he is currently 18th on the graded earnings list. The top 20 3-year-olds have first preference in the Kentucky Derby.
Jones said Mark Valeski arrived at Keeneland this morning and is doing well.
"There are no issues from running on a bare foot," Jones added. "There is no bruising, so that's a good sign. We still think he's an improving horse, his speed and Rag numbers improved again. I know he's on the bubble as far as the Derby, so we'll see what happens. If he doesn't get in I suppose we'll shoot for the Preakness (gr. I)."