Havre de Grace working at Churchill Downs 10/31/2011.

Havre de Grace working at Churchill Downs 10/31/2011.

Anne M. Eberhardt

'Grace' Works Five Furlongs in Final Prep

Filly will be taking on males in Breeders' Cup Classic.

“I certainly wouldn’t give it an A,” Jones said of the latest work. “She doesn’t do any more than you ask her. Maybe I should have thrown a target (workmate) out there. We weren’t sending (her out) for fitness. It was mainly to stretch her legs and see how she got over the track.

“We’re not worried about fitness as much as we’re worried about her handling the track. Watching the replay from the helmet cam of Gabriel, every time he called on her she would give him something. So I think everything was good. It looked good. It probably wasn’t as fast as lot of these other horses have been working, so I was a little concerned when I first saw the time. Watching her now after coming back (to the barn) and seeing how little water she is drinking, it was more like a gallop than a work.”

Jones said he might have Havre de Grace put in some strong gallops the rest of the week leading up to the Nov. 5 Classic, in which she will attempt to defeat males as she did earlier this year when winning the Woodward Stakes (gr. I).

Rick Porter, in whose Fox Hill Farm colors Havre de Grace is campaigned, said he and Jones wanted to have Havre de Grace run in the $5 million Classic rather than the $2 million Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) Nov. 4 because she has “earned a shot at it. I said, ‘Let’s go for the gusto here’.”

Porter, who owned the ill-fated Eight Belles, the game filly who died after a second-place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), and Derby runner-up Hard Spun, said Havre de Grace is the best horse he has ever owned.

With Havre de Grace having a shot at a Horse of the Year title, Porter said that winning the Classic is the biggest priority.

“It would be at the top of anything I’ve won,” Porter said of the Classic. “I think she’s the nicest horse I’ve ever owned. She did a nice job of beating the boys in the Woodward and if she can come back and get it done here, it doesn’t get any better than that.

“The most important thing is winning this Breeders’ Cup. Of course, she would be Horse of the Year if she did that. Winning this race is the number one thing on the agenda.”

Bred in Kentucky by Nancy Dillman, Havre de Grace has won or placed in all 14 career starts and earned $2,196,175.