Larry Jones’ two top 3-year-olds, Mark Valeski and Mr. Bowling, were both sent out on separate five-furlong works March 20 at Fair Grounds in preparation for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on April 1.
Jones could not have been any more pleased with Mark Valeski’s move. The son of Proud Citizen was clocked in :59 2/5 on the fast track, which was the best of 11 works that morning. Rosie Napravnik was aboard the bay colt, who finished second by a nose to El Padrino in the Feb. 25 Risen Star (gr. II).
Mr. Bowling, a disappointing 11th in the Risen Star after winning the Jan. 21 Lecomte (gr. III), went a much slower five furlongs in 1:03 4/5 while working alone. Both colts are homebreds of Brereton Jones.
Larry Jones had high praise Mark Valeski, who will likely be favored in the Louisiana Derby since El Padrino is being pointed for the Florida Derby (gr. I).
“We wanted him to work somewhere between 1:00 and 1:01, but he went along pretty nice and Rosie said he sure did it easy,” Jones said. “He’s doing very well. We’re sitting pretty good right now. Numbers-wise, he’s ahead of where Hard Spun and Eight Belles were at this time, and actually Friesan Fire too. So we feel like we’re right where he needs to be.
“This is the first time we haven’t worked Mr. Bowling in company since early winter and I thought because he had given us a couple pretty good works by himself before, (that) he was up for working by himself. But if he doesn’t have a target, he just takes his own sweet time getting around there. So next week he’ll definitely have company to work with. We were trying to get them all to go easy this morning, but Mr. Bowling took easy to the extreme.
“If the race doesn’t overfill, Mr. Bowling will be back in (the Louisiana Derby). But with it being a same owner entry, if someone gets excluded it would be Mr. Bowling because we’re going to run Mark Valeski for sure. We feel like Mark Valeski is our best 3-year-old but I really haven’t lost confidence in Mr. Bowling. We feel like that last race was a throw out and we know what went haywire. We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Mark Valeski will be making the third start of his season in the Louisiana Derby, as he also has a six-furlong optional claiming victory to his credit Jan. 13 at Fair Grounds.