Proud Spell and Music Note are practically tripping over each other trying to win the 3-year-old filly championship this year.
In the Mother Goose at Belmont Park on June 28, they each stumbled out of the gate against just two other rivals, and Proud Spell was disqualified from second to third for bearing out in the stretch.
They both came out of the race scraped up, and Music Note lost her right hind shoe and had her front left shoe dislodged.
There’s a good chance they’ll bang into each other again in the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 16.
Trainer Larry Jones is certainly pointing Proud Spell for that race, and she began serious galloping again on Saturday in Delaware after rebounding from the Mother Goose with a win in the Delaware Oaks.
“If you’ve got that horse, this is the place to play,” Jones said. “This is where champions are made, right here, and Proud Spell, we’ve got to get that Eclipse Award for her. Music Note is trying to put some pressure on us, so the only way to settle that debate is to match them up one more time, when hopefully, both of them stand up straight and keep their shoes on and not get hurt and get good trips, and hopefully, the best horse wins.”
Jones said the Delaware Oaks took a lot out of Proud Spell, especially since it came just two weeks after the Mother Goose, so they gave her a little training break.
Now she’s revving up for the Alabama, and will have one more week of recovery and workouts than Music Note, if the Godolphin filly, who won the Coaching Club American Oaks impressively at Belmont ark, runs in the Alabama.
“That was a big factor in not
going to the Coaching Club Oaks is we’re sitting there in our backyard with a half-million dollar race, versus having to drive three hours for three hundred thousand,” Jones said. “Plus, it was going to give our horse an extra week rest. We weren’t forseeing the Delaware race having to be a race that we’d have to use her as much as we did. We had to kind of call on her some. And then I could see that two-week turnaround showing up at the eighth pole.
“However, it wound up being a good thing, she got the job done, she had to empty her tank a little bit to do it, and reach down and get something that she hadn’t had to do since she beat Indian Blessing at Fair Grounds.”
After the Delaware Oaks, Proud Spell was turned out for a week.
The freshening appears to have had the desired effect, as Proud Spell is ready to get back to work.
“We didn’t do anything but let her pick grass, turn her out in a little paddock, let her buck and play, and just have a big time, be a horse for a little bit,” Jones said. “This last week, we’ve gone back into light galloping, and now today [Saturday] we started back at regular gallop. We’re ready to set her up. Should work. Hopefully, it will.”
Proud Spell was second to Indian Blessing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year, then beat Indian Blessing in the Fair Ground Oaks.
She lost to Little Belle in the Ashland, then rebounded again by winning the Kentucky Oaks.
“The Kentucky Oaks was easy enough for her, with the margin she won by,” Jones said. “Although she was running, it still didn’t empty the tank on her 100 percent, and this one [Delaware Oaks] did. And that thing at Belmont was such a fiasco, other than being cut up, she didn’t know what she had done. Me, either, really.”
Jones doesn’t have any stalls at Saratoga, but plans on coming up for several of the bigger races.
He wants to bring Amsterdam winner Kodiak Kowboy back for the King’s Bishop, and Proud Spell will ship up a few days before the Alabama.
“We feel like we have the horseflesh to at least give them that opportunity,” he said. “We’re not coming in here thinking we’re going to roll over the top of anybody. We’re going to try and get it on. What better spot than Saratoga? They’re giving away enough money.
“Music Note ran a huge race the other day. Looks to me like she’s setting up for a bounce, we’ve got to play that factor. And if she does, we sure would hate for her to bounce, and us not be there.”