Larry Jones already has one exceptional filly headed toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (gr. I)—that was confirmed when Fox Hill Farms’ Joyful Victory romped by nearly nine lengths in the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) a couple of weeks ago at Oaklawn.
But Jones is hopeful that he will have a second 3-year-old filly when the gates load at Churchill Downs on May 6. He will find out this weekend when Summer Soiree takes on 10 rivals in the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) March 26 at Turfway Park. The one-mile Polytrack contest is one of five stakes on Turfway’s 12-race program.
Wahoo Partners and Brereton and Bret Jones’ Summer Soiree will make her graded stakes debut one start after scoring a two-turn allowance race at Oaklawn by nearly 10 lengths in her 3-year-old debut Jan. 30. The daughter of War Front—Mazel Tov, by Mazel Trick, was highly thought of by Jones and his wife, Cindy, from the very beginning but has been somewhat inconsistent. She won just once in six starts as a juvenile with three distant third-place finishes.
Jones, who assigned Gabriel Saez to ride, says the bay filly has a lot of natural speed but doesn’t always like the surface she races on. This will be her first start on a synthetic surface after racing previously at Delaware Park and Oaklawn.
“She has that War Front in her where she just likes to get it on,” Jones said. “We didn’t want to put her in the Honeybee because of the potential pace scenario she would have to face; it just wasn’t the right spot for her. We’ll see if this is the right one. She’s finicky about her tracks. We don’t know if she’ll like (Turfway) but she really liked Oaklawn. We hope (Turfway) will hold her up as well as Oaklawn did.
“We were high on her from the start but sometimes it didn’t show at Delaware. When we saw her race at Oaklawn it confirmed to us what we thought she was all along.”
Summer Soiree, who was bred in Ontario by Brereton and Bret Jones, will break from post 5. If she runs well and does go onto the Kentucky Oaks, Jones will have a nice one-two punch for the race. Summer Soiree will provide true speed, while Joyful Victory would give him a big chance from off the pace. Jones, who won the Kentucky Oaks in 2007 with Proud Spell for Brereton Jones, is just happy to be back in the mix with good horses after recently coming back from retirement. He also trains star older filly Havre de Grace.
“Knowing I was coming back to some nice horses really did make it easier,” Jones said. “We’re very fortunate. Fillies have always carried my barn and we have some really nice ones again this year.”
Summer Soiree’s main competition could come from Shawnee Racing Stable’s Harlan's Ruby, winner of the local Valdale Stakes in February. The Ken McPeek trainee was second in the grade I Darley Alcibiades last year at Keeneland and eighth in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). She also has a turf win at Saratoga as a juvenile. Perry Ouzts will have the mount.
Other top contenders are Kitten's Dancer, a maiden claiming winner who came back to run second in the Valdale; and Lilacs and Lace, winner of the California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields in January.
$100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III, Race 8, 4:33 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 Mile (Polytrack) PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey, Trainer 1. PROUD HOUSE, 118 Pompell, T, Hubley, M
2. SUAVE VOIR FAIRE, 116 Alvarado, J, Smithwick, Jr., D
3. MARION RAVENWOOD, 116 Garcia, A, Motion, H
4. LILACS AND LACE, 122 Castellano, J, Terranova, II, J
5. SUMMER SOIREE, 118 Saez, G, Jones, J. L.
6. KITTEN'S DANCER, 116 Lebron, V, Maker, M
7. READYBDANCING, 116 Goncalves, L, Gore, T
8. ANGELICA ZAPATA, 116 Rosendo, I, Pellegrini, R
9. JELLY CABLE (LA), 118 Creed, B, Reed, E
10. HARLAN'S RUBY (LA), 122 Ouzts, P, McPeek, K
11. TOUCH SCREEN (L), 118, McKee, Walsh, R