By Sean Greene 8:40pm, June 12, 2014 - Updated 9:52pm, June 12, 2014
Blue Violet with assitant trainer Deidre Jackson on Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Sobocinski/Delaware Park)Saturday's Grade III Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park is the local stepping stone to next month's Grade I Delaware Handicap, and one familiar trainer is looking to take that path to victory again.
J. Larry Jones trains Blue Violet, an 8-1 morning line longshot, in the $150,000 mile-and-an-eighth race for older fillies & mares.
The four-year-old will be making her second start in Stanton, after finishing second in the Winter Melody Stakes three weeks ago.
Jones' Havre De Grace claimed the 2011 Obeah before going on to have an epic stretch duel with Blind Luck in the DelCap where she finished second, beaten a neck. Havre De Grace continued improving from there to the point she went on to win the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.
Jones returned several of his horses to Delaware this year after spending the last two years based in Kentucky and neighboring states.
Blue Violet broke her maiden in her 6th attempt at Louisiana's Fair Grounds back in January 2003, and followed that up with a solid 3rd place finish in the Grade III Rachael Alexandra Stakes that February. It would take her almost an entire calendar year before winning a 1st-level allowance race on January 23.
Her next race was a 5th place finish in an allowance-optional event at Maryland's Pimlico before Jones ran Blue Violet in the Winter Melody. Jones says Blue Violet appears to be on the uptick.
"She was kind of just rounding back into shape, hopefully continuing to step up. Each race has gotten better this year, she seems to be rounding into form, and hopefully it's good enough to be competition in all of this."
One reason to have confidence for improvement is a look at the bloodlines of Blue Violet. Her dam is Gasia, who finished 3rd in the 2006 Delaware Oaks before finishing 7th the next year in the Obeah. The sire is Curlin, the 2007 Horse of the Year who claimed the Preakness Stakes in his 3-year-old campaign.
"It's a family that gets better with age. This filly seems to be coming along nicely."
To claim victory Saturday, Blue Violet need to pass the one horse that led her start to finish in her last race, 3-1 second-choice Montana Native.
The field of eight also includes Gamay Noir, winner of the Grade III Rampart at Gulfstream (Fla.) Park in March. Gamay Noir is part of an entry with Golden Production that is listed at 2-1.
Flash Forward, 6-1 on the morning line, also figures to be dangerous after finishing second in Aqueduct's (N.Y.) Grade II Top Flight Handicap on March 1.
The rest of the field (with morning line odds) is Daydreamin Gracie (12-1), Zucchini Flower (6-1), and Ambusher (9-2).
The $750,000, Grade I Delaware Handicap is scheduled for July 12.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.