Havre de Grace – the town – best PR agent to be found for small Maryland town

By Irish Jack Ireland
The town of Havre de Grace, Md. is small, quaint and a very nice place to live.
If thre 4-year old racing filly, who is named after the town, has anything to do with it, Havre de Grace (the town) might become known to the entire thoroughbred racing world and national media by the first weekend in November.
Have de Grace, owned by Wilmington native Rick Porter and his Fox Hill Farm stable, is currently considered the top race horse in the country with the Breeders Cup Championships looming just two weeks away.
On Nov. 5, there would be little doubt she would most likely wrap up Horse of the Year honors with a victory over the males horses in the prestigious BC Classic at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
There are plenty of reasons, several of them local, to be excited about this powerful filly, but the words of Larry Jones, her trainer, might tell it best.
“I seriously think this is the closest I’ve ever been to the perfect race horse,”said Jones. “I thought Secretariat was that when he retired. If she (Have de Grace) has a flaw anywhere, anyhow, I haven’t found it.”
Havre de Grace was locally stabled in the Jones barn at DelPark for the last several months before he shipped her recently to Lexington (Ky.) to begin final Breeders Cup training preparations.
Her regular jockey is Ramon Domoinguez, no stranger to Delaware Park and it’s racing fans. Before becoming the dominant jockey on the Nrew York circuit, the popular Dominguez held that role at DelPark for five consecutive years. Domnguez, with the soft hands and the low-key demeanor, is a great fit for this exciting filly. And, Dominguez is clearly one of the “Real Nice Guys”, in the thoroughbred industry today.
Last year Dominguez wasn’t her regular rider, but Have de Grace had a good coming out 3-yar old campaign. Only problem was she just couldn’t seem to beat arch-rival Blind Luck in a couple major graded stakes for 3-year old fillies.
Blind Luck rallied just epough to nip her at the wire in the Grade II Delaware Oaks in 2010 at DelPark. The same scenario played out in the Grade I Alabama in August of 2010 at Saratog (N.Y.).
Porter and Jones have to be commended for the path they have taken with the filly sensation in 2011. Her one loss wasto Blind Luck by a whisker in the Grade II Delaware Handicap in July at DelPark. ASs disappointing as that was to lose like that fpor the second straight year omn her home track, Porter and Jones didn’t waver.
That setback didn’t deter them. It probably made them more determined about the right course of races for her.
Have de Grace bounced back to beat the boys in the Grade I Woodward at Saratoga. This fall she posted an impressive win in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park (N.Y.).
Have de Grace is trying to become the first horse stabled at DelPark to win the Eclipse Award as National Horse of the Year since Hall of Famer Spectacular Bid did it in 1980.
If Have de Grace can beat some very good older males on Nov. 5 in the Classic, she would be the first locally-based filly or mare to ever win the Eclipse as Horse of the Year.
Have de Grace is also trying to follow in the footsteps of filly Rachel Alexandra and the mare Zenyatta to take the top honor for a a horse in thoroughbredd racing for 2011.
Porter and Jones together have turned out some locally based horses that have made made a big name on the national level.
Those included the likes of Hard Spun and the late filly champion Eight Belles.
Porter has never shied away from putting out the money to purchase talented horse to run in the Triple Crown, other major states around the country and the Breeders Cup.
It’s time for him to be rewarded after undergoing some bad racing luck and real sadness with some of his top horses. Jones will have this filly at the top of her game when she steps into the starting gate at Churchill for the biggest race of her career.
I’m stepping up right now to say Havre de Grace will bring home the bacon and show those boys a thing or two on Nov. 5.
So even if you don’t follow horse racing in the town of Have de Grace, don’t miss the chance to be part of this excitement with a racehorse that doesn’t know the meaning of giving in or not trying her best to win. Jump on the bandwagon, it’s been a greayt run so far and will get only better. In a world today fillied with so much disappointment, anger and sadness, be part of a wonderful story and a neat little Maryland town that is a part of it.
As the saying gos, ‘Show me the money.’ My money is on Have de Grace all the way. Watch out – big boys.
EXTRA: EXTRA – Check in next week when I highglight two more local horses headed for the Breeders Cup in Gace Hall, trained by Anthony Dutrow anbd Union Rags, conditioned at Fair Hill (Md.) Training Center by Michael Matz.

Sallies grad grabs the blarney stone

By Irish Jack Ireland.

 Notre Dame football fans and even you haters out there and  might tune in the nationally televisied  game between the Irish and Southern California on Oct. 22. Keep an eye out for Notre Dame’s No. 50, senior Ryan Kavanaugh, the holder on field goal and extra point kicks for the irish and kicker David Ruffer.
Kavanaugh, a Salesianum graduate and former All-State lacrosse player for the Sals, first made the Irish roster as a walk-on long snapper three years ago. He made the squad in a backup role under coach Charlie Weiss.
When Brian Kelley took over last year, Kavanaugh graduated to holder on all extra points and field goal attempts. It should be noted that Ruffer didn’t miss a field goal attempt the entire 12 game regular season.
In last week’s 52-33 win over Air Force Kavanaug) was quite busy.
Kudos to Kavanaugh for sticking with it and doing something not many football players could,manage at the NCAA Division I level.
Kavanaugh was a backup end and s[pecial teams player for coach Bill DiNardo during his football days at Salesianum. Kavanaugh’s family lives in nearby West Chester, Pa.

Kavanaugh should be in the middle of some big, hopefully winning kicks, over the final six Notre Dame regulae season games.

Archmere upset headlines irish Jack Ireland’s high school six pack

By Jack Ireland. High school football picks and rankings.

As we hit the midseason point Irish Jack begins his high school grid colum this week with my state Top six rankings for Division I and II.

Division.I: 1-Middletown,, 2-Salesianum, 3-St. Mark’s, 4-Newark, 5-Dover, 6-(tie) Concord, Cape Henlopen.

Division II: -1-Delmar, 2-Caravel, 3-St. Elizabeth, 4-Archmere, 5-Hodgson, 6-Lake Forest. Howard closing in on top six spot.

Six pack of thrills and spills, including a couple upset picks from Irish Jack.

Friday

Archmere at Caravel, 7- I’m smelling an upset win for Archmere tonight. The Auk are solid with runners like Charlie Witsil, Dave McCrae and workhorse Bryan Garrahan.

Caravel is rolling after knocking off defending Division II state champion St. Elizabeth last week. Bucs (4-0) are for real and feature standouts Aaron Baunchaulk, Pierce Ripanti and quarterback Jon Welch. Archmere’s aggressive defenseis led by tackle Conor Lucey.

Archmere kicker Austin High, also an excellent receiver, may be the difference. Archmere 22-20.

Delmar at Indian River, 7:30 – Indians look for big win at home, but Delmar has too many weapons. The rushing of Frank Braham and the two-way threat of quarterback Kevin Trade,r behind an efficient offensive line could wear down the scrappy Indians. Delmar better slow down dynamic IR quarterback Jamie Jarmon. Delmar 28-20

Salesianum at Upper Darby (Pa.) – Sals are trying to hit the halfway mark at 5-0. This is the first of three straight out-of-state road games for Salesianum. Upper Darby, with three top running backs,  is just 1-4, but play in the tough Central Pa.) League.

Durable quartback Tommy Reeder has the arm and the receivers, led  by tight end Randall Schiccatano and slotback Jesse June to losen up the Upper Darby defense. That can make halfback Jerome Stanley even more dangerous. Sallies 21-13.

Sussex Central at Dover, 7:30. Sussex two-way back DeShawn Sheppard is one of many weapons for the underrated Golden Knights. However, Dover shook off a lopsided loss to Salesianum and regained its confidence a week later with a stunning upset win over defending Division I champion St. Mark’s. Sussex lost by two TDs at home to St. Mark’s.

Dover is speed crazy and can make big plays with the likes of QB Ian Gory and receiver- defensive back Jordan Robinson.. Dover 33-26.

Sussex Tech at Caesar Rodney, 7:30. Ravens have explosive offense, featuring Willis Dickerson and Christian Sivels. Running back Sahquille Stratton and improving CR pull off upset here. CR 27-26

Saturday

A.I. duPont at Newark, 7:30- Two exciting quarterbacks with Newark poster boy Taylor Reynolds and A.I. little man Ramsey Lowery. This may be closer than many think. Newark to stay undefeated with its overall balance and the arm of Reynolds. Newark 28-15.

College special

William & Mary at Delaware,. I came ‘oh so close to picking Maine to upset the Blue Hens last week. I blew a chance at that one. I know Delaware will be home and in an angry mood, but that won’t deter William & Mary. These two teams have built up quite a rivalry over the years. Hens stunned at Delaware Stadium. William & Mary 31-27

filly sensation Havre de Grace hopes bells are ringing in New York’s Beldame Stakes

By Jack Ireland
Havre de Grace, the brilliant 4-year old filly owned by Wilmington native Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, warms up for her next big challenge in today’s (Saturday) Grade I Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park (N.Y.).

Havre de Grace, the daughter of Saint Liam, breezed five furlongs on Tuesday at Delaware Park. Havre de Grace, trained by Larry Jones, was clocked in 1:02 1/5 over a fast main track at Delaware.
Havre de Grace is no stranger to DelPark. She has been stabled there since the beginning of the 2011 live meet last April. Havre de Grace, with New York’s top jockey Ramon Dominguez up, finished second. beaten a nose, by rival Blind Luck in the Grade II $750,000 Delaware Handicap on July 17.

Havre de Grace is a strong contender for Horse of the Year honors after she became just the second filly ever to win the Grade I Woodward Stakes,  against the boys, on Sept. 3 at Saratoga with Dominguez. Havre de Grace has enjoyed a Hall of Fame caliber career to date with seven wins, four seconds and two thinrds from 13 starts. She has lifetime earnings of $1,986,175.

“All is well. She started off slow, but finished up real good,” said Jones after her work. “She came home running well enough and we are where we want to be. When she got back to the barn she acted like it was a routine gallop instead of a breeze. But believe me, she is fit off of that Saratoga race. We are ready.”

After the Beldame, she is scheduled to run in the Breeders Cup championships at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. The question will be is she going to enter to Ladies Classic or the overall Classi with the boys. Today should tell us a lot.

Note. I have great respect for Jones and Porter, dating back to when I covered the horse racing beat for the News Journal. In my opinion, this filly is a definite contender for Horse of the Yerar Honors.

I know I’m pulling for her. She has shown true grit and toughness. That’s why she owns a win over the boys and could very well win the Breeders Cup Classic if Jones and Porter decide to go in that directions.

What’s up at DelPark?

Since I don’t work fulltime covering racing anymore, I have to admit at being a bit shocked when Delaware Park cancelled racing on Wednesday because of a lack of entries. How can that happen with a trop notch racing secretary like Pat Pope and a equally qualified Director of racing in John Mooney.

I won’t say anymore until I have a chance to talk to Pope or Mooney or both. I sure hope that doesn’t happen again during the last four weeks of the live meet.

Locally-based Grace Hall filly to beat in today’s Blue Hen

DelPark-based Grace Hall, trained by Anthony Dutrow, is the 6-5 morning line favorite in today’s $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at the Stanton track. Joe Rocco Jr. has the mount in the mile and 70 yard test for 2-year old fillies.

Glinda the Good, trained by Steve Asmussen and drawing the rail, is the early 7-2 second choice in the field of seven fillies entered.Delaware native Mike Luzzi is named to ride.

Grace Hall, by Empire Maker comes into today’s race on a big note after winning the Grace I $250,000 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga (N.Y.) on Sept. 4.Grace Hall became the 23rd graded stakes winner since 2002 to break their maiden at Delaware.

In her only other career start, Grace Hall won by three lengths in a ix furlong maiden race at DelPark on July 30.

“The big thing is I want to get some two-turn experience into her,” said Dutrow. “It is not easy to find a two-turn spot for her because New York has the one turn stakes and I could have gone to Keeneland, but I wanted to keep her on the dirt. It is as simple as that. I want to get some turn-turn experience in her and it was in our own backyard.”

t’s no accident that Dutrow has a few of those graded stake winners who break their maidens at DelPark over the years.”

“It is really amazing that there have been so many young, really good horses that broke their maidens here,” said Dutrow. “It is really not a fluke if you look at the large number of good horsemen around here..”

. Believe You Can owned by Brereton Jones and traned by Larry Jones, is 6-1 in the early line with Gabe Saez up.