Larry Jones and Cassatt at Sam Houston Race Park. (Jack Coady/Coady Photography)
Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Trainer Larry Jones traveled from his Kentucky base to Oaklawn late last month to check on his small string overseen by longtime assistant Corey York.
Jones said all seven horses he has in training are at Oaklawn, including six he also owns, as he continues to gradually pare down his once nationally prominent operation. Jones’ numbers have dwindled in recent years, particularly with the downsizing of major client Fox Hill Farm and eventually the death of its head, Rick Porter, in June 2021.
“Phasing out,” Jones, 66, said with a laugh. “I’ve had enough.”
Jones said he still owns three mares and has sent two homebreds to Arkansas trainer Robert N. Cline, one of his former exercise riders, to be broken. But going forward, Jones said, there will be no additions through claims, high-priced sales purchases or private purchases.
“I’ll have two or three a year coming,” Jones said. “Just a piddle deal now, and they’ll quit racing under my name even. I’ll keep them running, as me being trainer right now, but I’ll just hire a trainer. I’ll get somebody to do it and it will probably be Robert down here.”
According to statistics from Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Jones has 1,198 victories and $56,518,085 in purse earnings since starting his first horse in 1982. His most famous pupils include 2011 Horse of the Year and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Havre de Grace, champion Proud Spell, Grade 1 winner Hard Spun and another multiple Oaklawn stakes winner, Eight Belles, runner-up against males in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Jones has won the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest prize for 3-year-old fillies, three times (2008, 2012 and 2015).
“We don’t have anything that I’m super high on,” Jones said of 2022-2023 Oaklawn contingent. “We’re just down to horses.”
Jones said his stable was dealt a blow recently when his best horse, multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Bob’s Edge, emerged from a workout with a career-ending leg injury.
Bob’s Edge developed into one of Oaklawn’s top older male sprinters last season after winning the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes and inaugural $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3). A 5-year-old gelded son of Competitive Edge, Bob’s Edge won 6 of 18 starts and earned $556,695 in his career.
“He won’t go back to race,” Jones said. “Should not have any problem living. I’m not fixing to take a Grade 3 stakes winner and make a $5,000 claimer out of him. He deserves a better life than that. If I was still in it, doing it, I would say he would be my pony horse. He’s a good-natured horse.”
Jones entered 2022-2023 with 156 career victories, including 24 stakes, at Oaklawn.
Oaklawn’s annual price rollback promotion is Saturday. Corned beef sandwiches are 50 cents (two sandwiches per customer, per transaction) at participating concession stands/restaurants. Gates open at 11 a.m. (Central). First post is 12:30 p.m. …
“Oaklawn Raceday,” featuring David Longinotti, director of Oaklawn Anywhere, and Equibase representative Jeff Taylor, can be heard Saturdays 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Central) during the 2022-2023 meeting on Little Rock, Ark., radio station KABZ-FM 103.7 and www.1037thebuzz.com. … Eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. is scheduled to ride in the Clásico Del Caribe Sunday in Venezuela. The race is among the most prestigious in the Caribbean.