Brereton Jones’ homebred Mr. Bowling, thought to be a legitimate Triple Crown prospect, delivered a game effort in his 3-year-old debut, turning back Z Dager and Shared Property in an exciting finish to win the $175,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds (VIDEO).
Mr. Bowling’s head victory gave Brereton Jones a sweep of the 3-year-old stakes in New Orleans. His homebred Believe You Can tallied in the $120,000 Silverbulletday earlier on the card. Larry Jones, who won his third Lecomte in the last five years, trains both horses.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, Mr. Bowling won for the third time in five starts, defeating a full field of sophomores. Sent off as the second choice, he raced toward the front, took over from 57-1 shot Hero of Order at the top of the lane, and then desperately held off Z Dager, who came up right beside him in deep stretch, and Shared Property, who was driving in the center of the racetrack but came up a half-length short.
The final time for one mile and 70 yards on the fast dirt was 1:43.49.
By Istan out of the Irish Tower mare Goldilock’s Bear, Mr. Bowling won the Dover Stakes in commanding fashion at Delaware Park Oct. 8 and was third in the grade III Iroquois Stakes three weeks later at Churchill Downs. The colt trained steadily at Fair Grounds up to the Lecomte, which precedes the Feb. 25 Risen Star (gr. II) and April 1 Louisiana Derby (gr. II).
Runner-up Z Dager was part of Zayat Stables' favored entry at 3-1 odds along with Dan and Sheila in the 13-horse field.
The Lecomte pace was set by Alexander Thegreat, who clicked off early fractions of :23.21 and :47.22. Hero of Order tracked him closely, and took over briefly as they rounded the far turn. Z Dager was right there the whole way under Shane Sellers and Mr. Bowling was never far off the pace.
Shared Property, who overcame his far outside post, looked like the winner at about the sixteenth pole, as he was flying from the far outside with Leandro Goncalves aboard. But he flattened out just a bit in the final yards while Mr. Bowling was holding off Z Dager.
“I had a great trip, unbelievable trip," Albarado said. "I just wanted to give him a chance turning for home. I worked him in the morning. I saw a lot of fight in him. So I figured if I can get him clear turning for home, give him a chance to run home, he would. When that horse ran to him late, he gives him some second effort."
Carrying co-high weight of 122 pounds, Mr. Bowling paid $9.80, $4.20, and $4. The exacta (4-2B) returned $43.20 and the trifecta (4-2B-11) was worth $242.40.
Mr. Bowling, who banked $105,000 for the victory, has now earned $201,048.
“To be honest, we thought the colt was just starting to get good," said Larry Jones. "He’s maturing at the right time. He really showed an affinity for this track when we got down here. I can tell he liked it better than anywhere we’ve been to this point. He pretty well got himself ready. Having Believe You Can, they’ve been work mates, they got each other ready and it paid off.
“Jose Caraballo was on him as a two-year-old. That’s the first thing he said after his first work. ‘He can run as long as you can get the races to go. This one will run all day.’ I think he’s right.”
With the speedy filly Applauding scratched the morning of the race due to a case of colic, Believe You Can broke sharply under Rosie Napravnik and held off the bids of Inny Minnie and odds-on favorite Summer Applause to win by 1 1/2 lengths. It was the fourth victory in six lifetime starts for the daughter of Proud Citizen.
Winner of the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) last October at Belmont, Believe You Can set fraction of :23.82, :47.98, and 1:12.97 in the one mile and 70-yard Silverbulletday, which was her first try around two turns. She had a two-length lead at the eighth pole and was game in the stretch under urging from Napravnik.
The final time on the fast dirt was 1:42.34. Summer Applause held second with Albarado aboard, a nose in front of Inny Minnie in the field of five.
Believe You Can, who is out of the El Prado mare El Fasto, paid $7, $3.20, and $2.20 as the second choice.
“We were confident that she’d go far,” said Larry Jones. “I’ve probably trained more (Proud Citizens) than anyone. If they are good sprinting, they are better going long.”
The next leg of Fair Grounds’ 3-year-old filly series is the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) on Feb. 25.