Havre de Grace, finalist for the 2011 Eclipse Award as top older female and a leading candidate to be named Horse of the Year, arrived at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 5.
Fox Hill Farms’ Havre de Grace has settled in at the New Orleans track after an overnight van ride from the Vinery farm near Ocala, Fla.
“She’s just sleeping right now,” trainer Larry Jones said a few hours later during the daily renovation break. “We haven’t even had her out walking. We just walked her right to her stall and let her sleep. She looks good.”
A 5-year-old mare, Havre de Grace last raced in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, finishing fourth. She won five of seven starts in 2011, including a victory against older males in Saratoga’s Woodward Stakes (gr. I).
Jones confirmed earlier this week that the $100,000 New Orleans Ladies March 17 was circled on the calendar for Havre de Grace’s 2012 debut. However, the trainer said he has “no clue” as to when the three-time grade I winner might have her first official breeze over the Fair Grounds track.
“They’ve been doing a little something with her,” Jones said, referring to the staff at Vinery. “They jogged her for a couple weeks and then they loped her for a week, and I think they’ve been Aqua-Treding her as well. It probably won’t take long to get her ready.”
The Aqua-Tred is an underwater treadmill that allows horses to exercise in a controlled environment with minimal impact on the legs.
Jones, who personally exercises most of the horses in his barn, said Havre de Grace will visit the Fair Grounds track most mornings either right at the start of training hours at 6 a.m. or immediately after the renovation break, which ends at 8:30 a.m.
Several Horse of the Year winners and contenders have spent part of the winter at Fair Grounds in recent seasons, including Curlin (2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year), Rachel Alexandra (2009 Horse of the Year), and Blame (2010 Champion Older Male and runner-up in Horse of the Year voting).