Believe You Can 'bright and happy' following Oaks win

Brereton Jones' homebred Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can came out of the race in great shape, trainer Larry Jones said while accepting congratulations at his barn early on Kentucky Derby Day.

"Boy, she's wanting treats and she thinks she deserves some reward!" Jones said as his filly poked her head out of her stall. "She gets all kind of peppermints, carrots, sweet potatoes, you name it. Whatever she wants she's pretty well going to get.

"She ate every bite of her supper so right now we're good. She sure looks bright and happy."

Believe You Can walked the shedrow at about 7:30 a.m. (EST). Her scheduled day to return to the track for light exercise is Tuesday.

"I'm going to be gone to New York but I might stick around here long enough to jog her and make sure everything's OK," Jones said. "But we're not in a hurry now and we could walk her for a week if we need to."

While Jones hasn't penciled in anything for Believe You Can's next start, he said it's possible she could keep following the same path as his first Kentucky Oaks winner and fellow Proud Citizen daughter, Proud Spell, which has worked well to this point.

"We have been focusing on the Oaks all winter long," he said. "This was the game plan and thank goodness we were able to follow our steps. We didn't know that there was life after the Kentucky Oaks; we've got to go back and think now.

"I do know we could do like with Proud Spell and go back to the (Grade 1) Mother Goose (going at 1 1/16 miles on June 23), and the (Grade 1) Alabama (at 1 1/4 miles on August 18) will be our primary goal for the summer. But we're going to have to do something with her between now and then and we'll let her tell us. We're not going to get in a big hurry with her because she's shown she races well fresh and distance isn't a problem. But I would say the Mother Goose would be a primary target."

Jones was effusive in his praise of Rosie Napravnik's ride on Believe You Can, historic because she became the first woman to pilot an Oaks winner.

"There was a lot of speed in the race and I just told her, 'Rosie, on paper there's a lot of speed but a lot of times when I've seen races with a lot of speed everybody's afraid to go. So you've got to make up your mind when this thing opens and you see what everyone's doing.' I said, 'You have my blessings on whatever you decide and I'm not going to second-guess you, honey. You've got to ride it and do what you got to do.' When she saw that nobody was sending hard she let her get into the race and we saw it was the right choice."

Jones already knew that if they made the lead at any point in the final quarter-mile of the Kentucky Oaks they'd have a big shot. Believe You Can's tenaciousness had been on full display a month before when she gamely held off Summer Applause in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.

"We carried fractions that day that should've made her lay down and say, 'I'm done,' but she wouldn't," Jones stated. "I saw a horse with an iron constitution that day and I knew I had me another Proud Spell because Proud Spell refused to be passed down the lane. No horse in her career ever passed her down the lane and this horse here is trying to do the same thing. If you're not in front of her turning for home you're not finishing in front of her."

Speaking of the Fair Grounds Oaks, the win by Believe You Can means five of the past eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: Ashado (2004), Summerly (2005), Proud Spell (2008), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Believe You Can. The race was not run in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina.

"There is no better place to prep," Jones remarked. "What can you say? It works."

Jones' second Kentucky Oaks triumph reversed a spate of bad luck for his barn. Several familiar faces have gone missing in recent weeks and none has been more conspicuous in their absence than the trainer's wife, Cindy Jones, who suffered three broken ribs, a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder when kicked by a yearling on the couple's Arkansas farm. Cindy Jones was unable to attend the Kentucky Oaks.

"She's going to try to get here, maybe, tomorrow afternoon," Jones said. "She didn't want to get into all the bumping and hugging. That can be painful for her.

"April was a tough month. On March 31 this filly won and apparently we used up our quota of good luck that month. On April 1, April Fool's Day, Mark Valeski had his lost shoe fiasco (in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby). A few days later Cindy gets hurt. Then Havre de Grace gets a career-ending injury. Then Robi Jo, who looked so good at Fair Grounds and who we thought we'd have a big shot with in the Edgewood, has to be retired due to a tendon injury."

Then on Tuesday, they withdrew Mark Valeski from Kentucky Derby consideration.

"May's turning around, though," Jones smiled. "Maybe we'll be OK."

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