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Havre de Grace makes season debut Saturday

Wed 14th, March 2012

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Champion mare Havre de Grace gets back into the starting gate Saturday to begin defense of her Horse of the Year crown with the running of the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course.

The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares has four entered versus the double Eclipse Award winner. Fair Grounds raised the purse by $50,000 to attract owner Rick Porter's five-year-old.

Trained by Larry Jones, Havre de Grace will start from post two with Ramon Dominguez again piloting the mare.

"It works for me," Jones said about the post draw. "It really didn't matter to us. As I've always said, she's one of those that I don't have to worry about things with. She does whatever we need her to do. She doesn't care. You always worry about being race-ridden, but she really, truly can handle whatever's thrown at her."

Havre de Grace won five of seven starts in 2011 for more than $1.6 million. She won the Apple Blossom and Azeri at Oaklawn Park followed by the Obeah, Woodward and Beldame. She lost the Delaware Handicap by a nose to arch rival Blind Luck and was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

For her accomplishments Havre de Grace was voted 2011 champion older female along with Horse of the Year. A win Saturday will push her career earnings past the $2.5 million mark.

Juanita, trained by Mike Maker, comes into the New Orleans Ladies off a third- place finish in the track's Tiffany Lass to the champion's stablemate Joyful Victory. Owned by William and Graydon Patterson, the four-year-old will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik from the outside post.

The filly was second in January's $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial at Fair Grounds won by Cherokee Queen. Last year in seven starts she had three wins including the Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park. In 14 career starts Juanita has five wins for $256,642.

The fourth-place finisher from the Tiffany Lass, Distorted Love, has drawn post four with jockey Richard Eramia. The six-year-old is owned by A D K Racing and trained by Helen Pitts.

Distorted Love is a veteran of 28 lifetime starts with three wins and $167,906.

Here's the complete field in post position order: Sterling Madame, James Graham; Havre de Grace, Ramon Dominguez; Annabel Lee, John Jacinto; Distorted Love, Richard Eramia and Juanita, Rosie Napravnik.

The New Orleans Ladies will be run Saturday at 5:50 p.m. (ET).

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