The 6-year-old Jonesboro continued his impressive record at Oaklawn for trainer Randy Morse, winning for the fourth time in nine tries on the Arkansas track. The key scratches of the morning line favorite Zanjero and Spotsgone helped Jonesboro's chances.
Coming off a second-place finish behind the pacesetter Spotsgone in Oaklawn's Essex Handicap, the multiple stakes winning Jonesboro was able to dictate things this time. Spotsgone had to be scratched by trainer William Fires because of a right front leg bruise. Zanjero, trained by Steve Asmussen, popped an abcess in his right front hoof after shipping to Oaklawn from Fair Grounds this week.
Ridden by Calvin Borel, who guided Jonesboro to a stakes win at Delta Downs in December, the 4-5 choice went straight to the front at the start and led while under a firm hold through even fractions of :23.98, :47.75 and 1:12.67. Gouldings Green, with Eusebio Razo aboard, stayed right on Jonesboro's flanks and continued to pressure through the home stretch. Jonesboro, under steady handling, gradually drew away, however, approaching the eighth pole and came home 2 1/4 lengths in front of Gouldings Green. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile main track test for older horses was 1:44.21 on fast going.
Owned by Michael Langford, the chestnut son of Sefapiano out of the champion mare Mom's Command (by Top Command), picked up his ninth victory in 27 lifetime starts. The victory, worth $90,000, increased Jonesboro's earnings to $694,915. Jayeff B Stables bred the winner in Kentucky.
Named by the owner for his hometown in northeast Arkansas, Jonesboro will be pointed for the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) on April 5.
Jonesboro ran third in last year's Razorback. He carried 117 pounds to victory, paying $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20. The 7-year-old Gouldings Green, third in the Essex last time out, returned $3.60 and $2.60. It was 2 1/4 lengths to the ground-saving Going Ballistic, ridden by M. Clifton Berry, at $2.80 to show.
Encaustic finished a neck back in fourth, followed by Prom Shoes and Racketeer.