Back home, John Jones cruises
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Back at home after having his four-race win streak snapped in South Florida, Matt Schera’s John Jones led from start to finish and cruised to a five-length victory in the $75,000 Jennings Stakes for Maryland-bred/Maryland-sired runners in a race marred by the fatal breakdown of Just Jack.
Favored at 1-2 in a field of six, John Jones ($3) won for the fifth time at Laurel and third in a stakes since being claimed for $25,000 in mid-July by trainer Lacey Gaudet. With regular rider Luis Garcia aboard, the 4-year-old gelding ran a mile in 1:36.34.
“I got out easy and I knew that someone would come after me, so that I didn’t not have an easy lead all the way around,” Garcia said. “I did not have any trouble in the race. This horse tries hard every time and I was confident that we would do well today.”
Scratches left the field devoid of early speed to challenge John Jones, who broke sharply and coasted to the front, running the opening quarter-mile in 25.05 seconds flanked by Ravenheart on the rail and Final Prospect to his right. John Jones began to separate from his rivals after a half in 48.65 as Kaitain swept into second on the far outside ahead of Just Jack on the inside.
Rockinn On Bye closed late to edge Kaitain by a head for second with Final Prospect fourth. Just Jack fell fatally in mid-stretch and unseated jockey Alex Cintron, who was up and walking after the race but replaced on his final two mounts.
The Jennings was the first race for John Jones since finishing a strong third, beaten two lengths, in the Claiming Crown Jewel Dec. 3 at Gulfstream Park. He is now 7-for-12 lifetime at Laurel and six-for-eight in his career at the mile distance.
“This horse is one of the easiest horses to care for in my barn,” Gaudet said. “He tries hard every time and you can’t fault him for that Florida race because he gave it his all. We wanted to race here one more time to end our year and this seemed to be the perfect spot for him.”
The conclusion of the 2016 racing calendar meant mandatory payouts in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Late Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi-5 multi-race wagers. The Rainbow 6 returned $168.58 on a 20-cent unit for tickets with all six winners, the Pick 5 was worth $124.05, and the Super Hi-5 paid $619.90.
Laurel opens its 56-day winter meet Sunday, Jan. 1 and will also offer a special nine-race card on Monday, Jan. 2. First race post time both days is 12:30 p.m.