John Jones back in form in Jennings victory
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
In a return to his multiple stakes-winning form, Matt Schera’s John Jones cruised to the lead around the far turn and powered down the stretch to a 2 1/4-length repeat victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Jennings Stakes at Laurel Park.
The one-mile Jennings for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 Politely for fillies and mares 3 and up at six furlongs, both for Maryland-bred/sired horses, were among six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on the 10-race Christmastide Stakes Day program that marked the final stakes of 2017 in Maryland.
Winless in three starts this year since coming back from a minor injury suffered after last year’s Jennings, John Jones ($5.80) finished up in 1:36.36 over a fast main track. Bridget’s Big Luvy was second, with Rockinn On Bye third.
“I was very happy with the way the horse ran today,” said Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, aboard for the first time. “He’s a very nice horse. He took me for a ride today. I was a very happy pilot.”
Breaking from outside Post 11 as the 9-5 favorite, John Jones raced four wide as Bridget’s Big Luvy posted fractions of 23.62 and 46.45 seconds, with 25-1 long shot Kaitain in between. John Jones rolled up to the leaders approaching the stretch and met no resistance in taking over after six furlongs in 1:11.18, opening up on his rivals.
“We told Edgar there was a lot of speed on the inside and to just kind of let him do his thing. I think that’s what really helped him last year is that Luis Garcia really let him relax a lot the first part of it, and he did,” winning trainer Lacey Gaudet said. “At the three-eighths pole he looked like he was his old self, and he ran back to his form today.”
In addition to the Jennings, 5-year-old Smarty Jones gelding John Jones captured the Mister Diz over late legend Ben’s Cat last year – Gaudet’s first stakes victory as a trainer – and won five of six 2016 after being claimed by Gaudet for $25,000.
Now 7-for-9 lifetime at the one-mile distance, John Jones went unraced for 10 months before returning to be fourth in an optional claimer on turf Oct. 5 at Belmont Park.
“Really since the layoff he’s been training great. I think today just absolutely set up for him,” Gaudet said. “He didn’t have to ship, this is his home track, he loves it here, and he really loves the one-turn mile.”
One race prior to the Jennings, Euro Stables’ My Magician saved ground early and uncorked a steady drive on the far outside to edge Renaissance Rosie by a neck and win the $75,000 Politely.
Back in against fellow Maryland-breds three weeks after running fourth in the open Willa On the Move at Laurel, My Magician ($7.60) earned her fourth win and third in a stakes since being claimed by fall meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez for $25,000 in May.
Bumped from the gate by She Rolls to her outside, My Magician raced in mid-pack as She Rolls and Renaissance Rosie dueled through fractions of 22.53 and 46.33 seconds. Jockey Jomar Torres steered the 5-year-old mare seven wide at the head of the stretch and they closed determinedly to get up at the wire in 1:10.82.
“I thought she would get there,” owner Walter Ramos said. “I know she’s a good filly and it worked out good.”
Renaissance Rosie was three-quarters of a length ahead of Up Hill Battle in third, followed by Lucky in Malibu, Item, Moon Virginia, She Rolls, Rockin Jojo and Bioterp.