It seems the closer the party gets, the more people want to get dressed up and go – no matter where it is.
Not long after Curlin’s majority owner Jess Jackson indicated the reigning Horse of the Year might show up at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup after all, trainer Larry Jones stated that Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Proud Spell could be headed to California too. Jones, who previously said Proud Spell was unlikely for the Breeders’ Cup, made the comments during a national media teleconference Sept. 16.
“We’re taking the races one at a time,” said Jones, who will saddle Proud Spell in the $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion (gr. II) this weekend at Philadelphia Park. “If we do go (to the Oct. 24 Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic), this would be her last race before we go.
“We worked her on the Tapeta surface (at Fair Hill Training Center) in case we decide to go. If she comes out of this race as well as she’s come out of her others, we may well be going to California.”
Like Jackson, Jones has reservations about running his horses on Santa Anita’s newly-installed Pro-Ride surface, which will be tested for live racing for the first time Sept. 24. As recently as Aug. 17, Jones told Blood-Horse “we’re not looking to go to the Breeders’ Cup with Proud Spell.” He said the Proud Citizen filly, who is owned by Brereton Jones, should have locked up the 3-year-old filly championship after winning both the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes (gr. I).
Jones did not indicate why his thought process had changed about the Breeders’ Cup, but he did say he is still not thrilled about the way Proud Spell handles synthetic surfaces.
“It is a concern. She hasn’t done as well on the synthetics as some of my others have,” he said. “Her times are slower than the efforts she has been putting forth should suggest. I guess all eyes will be on Santa Anita. We’ll see what happens.”
Proud Spell, who has won seven of 11 starts and earned more than $1.9 million, is also a slight filly, which gives Jones reason for concern as the year wears on.
“I know this filly, and it’s been a long year already,” Jones explained. “She’s flesh and bone. Sooner or later she’s going to start showing signs of being tried.”
Proud Spell is expected to be the heavy favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion, and will carry five-10 more pounds than her rivals. The field of seven includes: Color Me Up, Million Dollar Run, Never Retreat, Seattle Smooth, Picker and By the Light.