Michael Langford's 6-year-old Jonesboro, winner of the 2007 edition of the Essex Handicap, will defend his title when a field of 11 hits the Oaklawn Park oval in this year’s running of the $100,000 event Feb. 9.
Featured as the ninth race on a 10-race card, the 1 1/16-mile Essex has drawn older horses such as grade III winners Gouldings Green and Spotsgone, along with William Fires trainee Prom Shoes.
Jonesboro, carrying the high weight of 119 with Jamie Theriot in the saddle, comes off a Dec. 7 win in the Sam’s Town Stakes at Delta Downs for trainer Randy Morse. The son of Sefapiano, bred in Kentucky by Jayeff “B” Stables, took that seven furlong event by 1 ¾-lengths after swinging four wide on the first turn and dueling for the finish down the stretch. He got the win after a failed attempt on the turf in Remington Park’s Remington Green, in which he finished last after setting the pace. Before the turf event, he ran second to Student Council in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) at Hawthorne Park.
Typically close to the pace, Jonesboro could enter a speed duel with the front-running Spotsgone, who prepped for the Essex with a wire-to-wire score in a Jan. 20 allowance race going one mile at Oaklawn. Owned by Robert Yagos and trained by William Fires, the Bright Launchrunner held on to gain that victory by just three-quarters of a length over Eugene Melnyk's Gouldings Green. The win was his first since August of 2007, when he took the Sea O Erin Mile Handicap at Arlington Park. Bred in Kentucky by Hurstland Farm, he also has a Hanshin Cup victory to his credit – he won the 2007 edition by 2 ¼-lengths. Gouldings Green was third behind Wayne Catalano trainee Lewis Michael in that one-mile event at Arlington Park. Spotsgone will carry 115 under Joe Johnson.
Assigned 117 pounds and acquiring the services of Eusebio Razo Jr., Gouldings Green would benefit from a speed duel up front. The 7-year-old son of Charismatic generally stalks the pace and nearly nipped Spotsgone for the allowance victory as he came from fourth and led by a head briefly before conceding. Bred in Kentucky by Marvin Delfiner, he seeks his sixth career stakes victory and his fifth grade III win for trianer Anthony Reinstedler.
Trainer Steve Asmussen entered two runners, Beta Capo and Louisiana Handicap winner Silver Lord, but the latter will run in the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds the same afternoon instead. Beta Capo, a son of Langfuhr , will attempt to return to his winning ways off a third-place finish behind Spotsgone and Gouldings Green in the Jan. 20 Oaklawn allowance. Previously, he won the Dec. 1 Governor’s Cup Stakes going 1 1/16-miles at Remington Park by four lengths. Owned by Bob and Cathy Zollars, the 4-year-old ran in the 2007 Super Derby (gr. II) four starts ago but lacked response and finished sixth.
Got the Last Laugh, Richland Creek, Moyer’s Pond, Like an Eagle, and Finance Minister complete the field.
$100,000 Essex Handicap (race 9, approximate post 5:02 p.m. CST), 1 1/16-miles for 4-year-olds and up, dirt
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Prom Shoes (KY), 114, Ricky Frazier
2. Gouldings Green (KY), 117, Eusebio Razo, Jr.
3. Jonesboro (KY), 119, Jamie Theriot
4. Got the Last Laugh (KY), 113, Christopher Emigh
5. Beta Capo (KY), 114, Luis Quinonez
6. Richland Creek (KY), 110, Larry Melancon
7. Spotsgone (KY), 115, Joe Johnson
8. Silver Lord (KY), 116, Corey Lanerie
9. Moyer's Pond (KY), 114, Justin Shepherd
10. Like an Eagle (KY), 111, Timothy Doocy
11. Finance Minister (FL), 112, Dylan Williams