JONES GOES AROUND THE TRACK ON LAST TIME – It was business as usual Saturday morning at Barn 43 at Churchill Downs with trainer Larry Jones in the saddle and galloping his horses during training hours.
But the game, and Jones’ life, will change on Sunday.
"I am sleeping in that morning,” said Jones, who is turning over the training of his 23 horses to his wife Cindy. “I’m gonna tell Cindy that I’m sick.”
Jones, a 53-year-old native of Hopkinsville, Ky., who began training in 1982, is retiring as a trainer after the Saturday card in which he will send the 3-year-old Payton d’Oro out to face older foes in the $150,000-added Chilukki (Grade II).
Jones galloped four horses Saturday morning, the final one being No Such Word.
“That’s it, I’m done,” Jones said with a laugh after he got off the 2-year-old filly.
“I’m gonna keep on galloping. I think I’m on the gallop list tomorrow, but on the late, late ones. I think tomorrow will be my first day as an exercise rider because I have always had a trainer’s license when I have been galloping my horses.”
Jones owns one stakes victory at Churchill Downs, where he saddled his first starter. That winner was Proud Spell in the 2008 Kentucky Oaks.
But it was another filly that really kick-started Jones’ career, Island Sand, who finished second to Ashado in the 2004 Oaks.
“She was right here in this barn and she was the one that really put us on the map,” Jones said. “We drove back to Ellis Park with her in the trailer that afternoon after the race. We stopped at a McDonald’s for a bite to eat and she went through the drive-through with us.”
Jones, who saddled Hard Spun and Eight Belles to runner-up finishes in the 2007 and 2008 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, still has that trailer.
“It is in Maryland with all my stuff in it that has to get to Oaklawn Park,” Jones said.
Cindy Jones will oversee the barn operations through the end of the Churchill Downs meet on Nov. 28 and then the couple will head home to Henderson, Ky., for the holidays and Christmas with the grandchildren.
Longtime assistants Deirdre Jackson and Cory York will handle the stable’s move to Arkansas and continue to work with Cindy.
DEMARCATION COULD RETURN CLOSING WEEKEND – Trainer Paul McGee already had one horse in his barn targeting the Nov. 27 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII) in Dubious Miss.
He may have picked up a second on Friday when the Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation rallied to win the Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) in his first main track start since February 2008.
“The way Mr. (John) Amerman was talking last night, he was thinking about the Clark,” McGee said. “We will talk about it, but Demarcation could come back and defend his title in the River City (Handicap, GIII). He is fine this morning.”
The victory by Demarcation was his first since dead-heating with Karelian in last year’s River City Handicap. Jesus Castanon, who was aboard Demarcation on Friday, also was aboard in the River City to account for the rider’s two Churchill Downs stakes victories.
TAPITSFLY COMPLETES FRIDAY GRAND SLAM FOR ROMANS – If there was any lingering doubt that Friday was Dale Romans’ day, Tapitsfly erased it in Southern California.
Romans was not at Churchill Downs yesterday to see each of his three starters reach the winner’s circle. First up was Bobby B. Goode ($8.80) in the second, followed by Buckwild ($11.60) in the fourth and Sir Jock ($5.80) in the fifth.
The trio of wins gave Romans five through the first four days of the 21-day meet and lifted him into the top spot in the race for “leading trainer” honors.
But the crowning achievement of the day came at Santa Anita when Louisvillian Frank Jones Jr.’s homebred Tapitsfly won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf under Robby Albarado.
The victory by Tapitsfly, Romans’ only horse in the 2009 World Championships, was Romans’ first Breeders’ Cup win from seven starters.. It was the second Breeders’ Cup victory for Albarado, who won the 2007 Classic on “Horse of the Year” Curlin.
Albarado nearly doubled up in the next race, the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), finishing second on Beautician for Churchill Downs-based trainer Ken McPeek.
Baldemar Bahena, assistant to Romans, said that Tapitsfly was scheduled to return to Churchill Downs on Sunday.
FUND ESTABLISHED TO ASSIST INJURED RIDER BRIMO – Cindy Werner, wife of trainer Ronny Werner, has set up a fund at Fifth Third Bank to assist with the cost of rehabilitation for jockey Julia Brimo who was injured in an Oct. 30 spill at Keeneland.
“They have taken the respirator out and she is breathing on her own,” Cindy Werner said of the 33-year-old Brimo, who remains hospitalized in serious condition at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. “She has some movement in her extremities.”
Brimo’s mount, Golden Stride, clipped heels and feel in the first race on the Polytrack surface at the Lexington track.
“She has been galloping horses for us and rode some for us at Turfway Park,” Cindy Werner said.
Brimo had been a regular fixture at Churchill Downs the past few years as an exercise rider for trainer Mark Casse and among the horses she had galloped here was Sealy Hill, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2007.
Werner said donations to the fund would be accepted at any Fifth Third Bank or can be mailed to Werner at 1116 Flat Rock Road, Louisville, KY 40245.
BARN TALK – Five-time Churchill Downs riding champion Julien Leparoux was the riding star of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Friday with two victories. Leparoux guided She Be Wild to victory in the $2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies (GI) and Informed Decision in the $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI). Leparoux also finished third on Forever Together in the $2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf (GI),
She Be Wild is trained by Wayne Catalano, who has 22 horses stabled in Barn 42.
Three-time Churchill Downs graded-stakes winner Pure Clan atoned for her last-place showing in last year’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf by running a fast-closing second to Midday (GB) for veteran trainer Bob Holthus.
The 1-2 finishers in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, Life Is Sweet and Mushka, both spent time here in the Spring of 2008 in Barn 19 for trainer Bill Mott.
“Mushka spent some time between here and Keeneland after she wintered at Payson Park,” said Kenny McCarthy, Mott’s Churchill Downs assistant. “Life Is Sweet was here after she ran at Keeneland (fourth in the Grade I Ashland), but the owners (Pam and Marty Wygod) saw that she liked the Polytrack and sent her to John Shirreffs in California.”
Former jockey Joe Deegan, who spends the first part of each morning galloping horses at Churchill Downs, picked up a training victory Friday when Pop Tarrt posted a $101.80 upset in the eighth race.
“We have some horses at the High Point Training Center in LaGrange,” Deegan said. “I gallop here until 7:30 and then go out there. We can train as long as we want out there.”