During the 2010 meet at Delaware Park, the “retired” Larry Jones was assistant trainer to his wife, Cindy. This year, however, the roles will be reversed.
Larry Jones, who came out of retirement at this year’s Oaklawn Park meet in Arkansas, is back as the trainer of record, with his wife as assistant. He’s among a solid group of trainers with stalls at Delaware Park, which will begin its 2011 season April 30.
Jones had 18 wins, 14 seconds, and 11 thirds from 80 starts at Oaklawn. He won the grade I Apple Blossom Handicap with Havre de Grace and grade II Fantasy Stakes with Joyful Victory; both Fox Hill Farm-owned runners will be stabled at the Delaware racetrack.
“They are doing well,” Jones said. “Before Joyful Victory gets to Delaware, she is going to go Churchill for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Havre De Grace will be headed to Delaware at the end of the week (of April 17). We are going to give her a quick little breather off the Apple Blossom. The next major goal after that is the Delaware Handicap (gr. II). I am sure we will get a race into her before that.”
The Obeah Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park June 11 is on the radar screen for Havre de Grace, Jones said.
“We got 38 stalls, and the horses have started arriving,” Jones said. “We should have about 16 in the first bunch. Obviously, we are taking some horses to Churchill for Derby week, but we are looking forward to another Delaware meet.”
In 2005, Jones won the Delaware Handicap with Island Sand. The following year, he moved his entire spring, summer, and fall operation to Delaware Park, and has returned each year since.
New this year at Delaware Park is trainer Dennis Ward, father of trainer Wesley Ward, who will be relocating his operation from the Southwest. Dennis Ward has 28 stalls and said he will fill them all.
“I hope I am going to have more once we get up and going,” Ward said. “As soon as Gulfstream and Keeneland end, between myself and Wesley we are going to have more than 100 horses to figure out where they should go. We are going to see which ones fit and what kind of races we are going to be having at Delaware.
“After that we will be shipping them and filling up the stalls. We are going to have 40 at Aqueduct and some at Monmouth. We are going to have plenty of horses.”
The 64-year-old native of Washington State has been to Delaware Park before, but it was as a jockey more than 40 years ago. Ward said part of the reason he decided to relocate is because of his fond memories of the track. Another motivator is business.
“We normally would have gone to Prairie Meadows (in Iowa),” Ward said. “I have not been to Delaware since I rode there in the mid-1960s. We needed a place to run our horses, and we wanted to have all of them close together—Aqueduct, Monmouth, and Delaware. I wanted to come to Delaware because I have always liked the track, and Delaware offers some good money.
“We also breed a lot of horses, so we are planning on getting some of them Delaware Certified. I am actually thinking about buying a place in Delaware. I would like to have a place there to keep them.”
Ward is currently based on the New Mexico/Arizona circuit.
Other new outfits targeting Delaware Park are Juan Carlos Guerrero, John Rigattieri, and Shannon Ritter.
Other trainers returning to Delaware Park are defending champion Juan Vasquez, Scott Lake, Randy Nunley, Michael Matz, H. Graham Motion, Ron Moquett, Todd Pletcher, Tim Ritchey, Michael Gorham, Anthony Dutrow, Steve Hobby, Mac Robertson, Steve Klesaris, and Michael Stidham.
After opening day, racing will resume May 7 and be held Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays with first post set for 1:15 p.m. EDT. The 106-day meet runs through Nov. 5.