With the success trainer Larry Jones has had this year with Breeders' Cup Classic candidate Hard Spun, it is easy to forget that he built his reputation with fillies. Among the best he has trained are Grade 1 winners Island Sand and Wildcat Bettie B.
Proud Spell could join that list next month. She is headed to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27 following a sweeping 4 1/4-length victory last weekend in the Grade 2 Matron at Belmont Park. The win was the third in as many career starts for Proud Spell.
"She's a little trouper," said Jones. "She just steps up to the plate, does what she's supposed to do, and acts like she's going to be a pretty nice filly."
Jones said Proud Spell would train up to the Breeders' Cup. Gabriel Saez has the mount. Proud Spell is based at Delaware Park, where she stalked and pounced her way to a debut win July 30. One start later, she came from off the pace for a five-length win in Delaware's $55,000 White Clay Creek. Her two-turn debut will come in the Juvenile Fillies, and Jones said her ability to rate is one of a number of reasons to believe she will be effective at the 1 1/16-mile trip.
"I don't foresee that being a problem, the way she's looked," he said. "She's finished strong in every race, and she's sitting back. With a lot of 2-year-olds, most of them win races with speed. They just go to the front and go, but she's already learned to sit back and bide her time and wait until it's time to go. So, I think she's got a whole lot of the learning curve behind her."
Proud Spell is by Proud Citizen, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby in 2002.
De Star Xpress, also trained by Jones, is a top contender in the $55,000 Irish Sonnet at a mile at Delaware on Saturday. In this weekend's other dirt race of note for 2-year-old fillies, two-time stakes winner Silk Ridge will make her two-turn debut in the $150,000 Brave Raj Breeders' Cup at Calder, also on Saturday.