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Jones hoping it's "Martini" time in Oaks

August 05, 2011

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Trainer Dustin Jones is hoping he can shake things up when Martiniontherocks lines up behind the gate for the 85th edition of the Hambletonian Oaks this Saturday at The Meadowlands.
The trotting miss has always impressed her conditioner, right from day one. When Jones traveled to a handful of farms looking at yearlings in the fall of 2009, the daughter of Conway Hall-Inspired Society caught his eye.
“When I saw her in the paddock, I liked her,” recalled the conditioner, who will have Trevor Ritchie in the sulky. “She moved real well in the paddock and handled her feet well. She wasn’t a very big filly, but she really traveled well.”
As a two-year-old, the filly showed her trainer she was a bargain $40,000 Harrisburg purchase. The bay had a lucrative 10-start season with four wins, including the $600,000 Breeders Crown at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, two seconds and two third-place finishes, banking $414,515 in earnings.
Now at three, Martiniontherocks will not only look to notch her first win of the season, she will also look to win the biggest race of her career to date, the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
Jones believes it won’t be an easy task, as Martiniontherocks will be harnessed with a difficult post.
"I was feeling really good about going into the final, but then we drew the nine-hole,” said Jones. “There was two positions left to be drawn, the nine and four, so ‘Martini’s’ name got pulled and we got the nine. Rick Zeron’s filly (Lady Rainbow) got the four. It would have been a lot nicer to have post four, but at least we are in the race.”
Jones was pleased with his filly’s efforts in her elimination last Saturday where she finished fourth, but knows they could use some luck in the final.
“We may need a few people to make some mistakes,” Jones said with a chuckle. “There are some pretty good horses in there. She raced really well for only having her second start of the year. She was beat only two lengths.
“It was her first time over the track. A lot of the other fillies have been racing there all along and sometimes with their second start they are a little better.”
But, Jones would be more confident going into the rich final if ‘Martini’ had a few more races on her
résumé. “It would have been nice to have another start or two, but actually she raced pretty good last week. She’s fresh, so hopefully she’ll race well.”
In the spring, while the filly was training down in Quebec, Jones explained that excess amounts of rain put a damper in his training plans, which was why she lacks more starts.
“We would lose a week here and lose a week there,” he said. “The next thing you know, to get her ready for the Elegantimage, we were going to have to rush her for the last couple of weeks of training and
cut some corners, but we didn’t want to do that. We decided that there is a lot of money in the fall and later in the year that we wouldn’t rush her back.”
Jones has kept Martiniontherocks eligible to the New York Sires Stakes, Simcoe Stakes, Kentucky Futurity, Breeders Crown and Matron Stakes for owner Ecurie Synergie of Montreal, Que.
Martiniontherocks was able to pull off a shocker in last year's Breeders Crown at 30-1. Jones is hoping he can raise a glass to celebrate another memorable win, this time in New Jersey.

The field for the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks:
PP - Horse - Listed Driver
1. Iron Lady - Mike Lachance
2. Crys Dream - Luc Ouellette
3. Seducedbychocolate - David Miller
4. Lady Rainbow - Rick Zeron
5. Bold And Fresh - George Brennan
6. Sashay - Ron Pierce
7. Hey Mister - Brian Sears
8. Wincinnatti - Yannick Gingras
9. Martiniontherocks - Trevor Ritchie
10. Jezzy - Tim Tetrick
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