SUPER STEED NO SURPRISE TO LARRY JONES
When Super Steed won the grade 3 Southwest Stakes at odds of 62-1 on February 18, trainer Larry jones was surprised, but not about the trip to the Oaklawn Park winner’s circle.
The Southwest Stakes is one of the key prep races for the Arkansas Derby each year. For those thinking even more forwardly, this mile and a sixteenth jaunt over some dirt in Hot Springs is a launching pad for the Kentucky Derby. When the veteran conditioner brought his Steed to the starting gates for the $500,000 race, he had a pretty good idea his horse would run strong, even if nobody else did.
“I wasn’t surprised at all when we won the race,” laughs Jones. “What buffaloed me was the fact we were 62 -1. I looked at the tote board and joked with my guys they had the wrong number on the board for us. He had not won his last two races, but he had run pretty well every time out. I couldn’t believe he was getting so little respect.”
With folks thinking about the fast lane on the super-highway that leads to Louisville, the courageous performance of Super Steed in the Southwest has his connections dreaming of the first Saturday in May. A son of 2010 Derby winning runner Super Saver, his trainer recognized his talent early on. The Southwest was just one of the stepping stones in the Larry Jones plan for his talented colt.
“We wanted to run him once a month because we knew he needed the experience,” says the Hopkinsville, Kentucky native. “He’s a very gutsy horse that has proven he can run with anybody. He’s got a lot of determination and I like how he reacts when another horse looks him in the eye.”
No stranger to success on the big stage in early May, Jones has won the Kentucky Oaks three times (Proud Spell 2008, Believe You Can 2012, Lovely Maria 2015) and finished second in the Kentucky Derby twice (Hard Spun 2007, Eight Belles 2008). Refusing to get too far ahead of himself, the winner of over 1,000 races wants to concentrate on keeping his Steed focused on continuing to improve each day.
“The Rebel Stakes is what we are thinking about right now,” says Jones. “If we do well enough there the Arkansas Derby is our next target. Both those races are worth a million dollars and that’s pretty darn good. We’ve got a program we want to stick to and if we can make it to Churchill that would be great, but right now our concentration is here at Oaklawn Park.”
Super Steed has run beneath the twin spires once before as he broke his maiden there in November of 2018. The win at Oaklawn was his second trip to the winner’s circle in five career starts. A horse that appears headed in the right direction, his light-hearted trainer laughed all the way to the bank after pulling off what others thought as the unthinkable in the Southwest.
“You know the funny thing about going off at 62-1 was in the end that really didn’t matter to him or us,” says Jones. “They still gave us all the first place prize money.”