Havre de Grace

Havre de Grace

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Havre de Grace Gets Serious for Azeri Return

Larry Jones' 4-year-old filly works a spritely five furlongs at Oaklawn March 2.

After some playful training runs this winter at Oaklawn Park, Havre de Grace is getting her mind on business for trainer Larry Jones, prompting him to solidify plans to launch her 2011 campaign in the $100,000 Azeri Stakes (gr. III) March 19.

Fox Hill Farm’s 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam worked five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 March 2. More importantly, she did it by herself – without a workmate. Two weeks ago she went for a “leisurely stroll” when sent by herself, forcing Jones to wheel her back for a more demanding drill three days later, this time in company.

“She looked good doing it,” said Jones after her most recent drill. “She’s pretty sharp, and to do it by herself shows me it’s time to get serious.”

The 1 1/16-mile Azeri would be Havre de Grace’s first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. She was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly in 2010 on the strength of a 2-3-1 campaign in six starts, including a victory in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) at Philadelphia's Parx Racing over the eventual Eclipse winner Blind Luck.

Jones is hoping a good performance in the Azeri will propel Havre de Grace toward the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) April 15 and a potential rematch with Blind Luck.

Another likely Azeri challenger for Jones, Payton d'Oro, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 for owners Mike Pressley and Edward Taylor Feb. 27.