Wow. Racing against winners for the first time today, Believe in Royalty left few unbelievers on a cool Sunday at Laurel Park.  The big gray colt jumped into the bit and into the lead just inches from the start and led all the way to victory in a 1-mile allowance.

The brilliant son of Tapit was undoubtedly as impressive as one might think, coming from this family tree (see below).  It may be too early to jump on the Triple Crown bandwagon, but it is not too unrealistic.

Take a read below…

If you are looking for the top “Pedigree of the Day,” you don’t have to look too hard to find one with “royalty” from top to bottom. In the fifth race at Laurel Park today, the 2-year-old colt Believe in Royalty will be making his third career start for trainer Larry Jones and some fine connection of owners that include Robert C. Baker, William Mack and his breeder, former Governor Brereton C. Jones.

And, without any question, this one is a royal blue blood.

Just consider, this guy — who sold for $900,000 at the Keeneland September Sale about a year ago — is by the world’s most highly touted sire, in Tapit, and out of the 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can.

How does it get any better than that, Governor?

Let’s start with the dam, Believe You Can, who was trained by the same guy who is caring for this talented 2YO colt — Larry Jones. After breaking her maiden in her second start, in the summer of 2011 at Delaware Park, this filly by Proud Citizen went on to capture her next two starts — including the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Belmont Park.

She finished her 2YO campaign, when stretching out to a mile for the first time, with a disappointing 6th place finish in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs. But it would not be long before she would return to the land of the Twin Spires to make her redemption.

After a short break, Believe You Can returned in January to make her 3YO debut and won the Silverbulletday Stakes at The Fairgrounds. But, when stretching out to 11/16-miles for the first time, she regressed and finished fourth in the G3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes in the Big Easy.

But that was proven to be just a minor setback. The talented filly came right back to win beat the winner of the Rachel Alexandra in the Fairgrounds Oaks and stamp herself a legitimate contender for the 2012 Kentucky Oaks.

Going into the Oaks, confidence exuded from the Jones’ barn after Believe You Can fired a bullet :58 2/5 work in the mud April 29.

On the first Friday in May of 2012, Airdrie Farm was on full display in the race that Gov. Jones and his lovely wife, Libby, had come to call their own.  In the 11/8-mile Kentucky Oaks, Believe You Can — sent off at odds of 13-to-1 — made believers of us all, running away in the deep stretch to beat Broadway’s Alibi by a length, and Grace Hall, the 5-2 favorite, farther back in third in a time of 1:49.50.  It was the only time in her race career — which saw her win 8 times, including 3 Graded Stakes in her 14 race career — that she ever ran that far.

Evan Hammonds wrote this in The Daily Racing Form afterwards:

“The win is the second for the Jones boys — breeder/owner Brereton Jones and trainer Larry Jones — as they sent out Proud Spell to win the Oaks in 2008. Proud Spell was later named champion 3-year-old filly.

“It’s not Brereton Jones, it’s Larry Jones and his team and the staff at Airdrie Stud that makes this,” Brereton Jones said after the race.

 

Booting Believe You Can home with a furious stretch run was Rosie Napravnik, who became the first woman to ever win the Kentucky Oaks — a glamorous race for fillies. She won the race for a second time two years later, in 2014, with Untapable.

In 2014, Believe You Can was consigned to the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, to be held at Nov. 3. She was in foal to the great stallion Tapit, at the time. At that time, Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning said:

“When you look at the Honor Roll of fillies to have won the Kentucky Oaks, and couple it with her being in foal to Tapit, the hottest sire at stud in North America, it is obviously a high privilege for us to offer Believe You Can for Airdrie.”

Jennie Rees, the Eclipse Award-winning writer for The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote this at the time:

“In a classic case of striking while the iron’s hot, Airdrie Stud will offer its 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can at Fasig-Tipton’s November sale. The 5-year-old mare is in foal to the top-ranked stallion Tapit, whose progeny led Keeneland’s recently concluded yearling sale.

Airdrie Stud owner Brereton Jones, the former Kentucky governor, said “it’s not an easy decision,” and that Believe You Can will have a predetermined minimum sales price (known as a reserve) that must be reached at auction Nov. 3 or she won’t be sold.

“She’s in foal to the hottest stallion in the country,” he said. “The mare got in foal on the first cover, and she’s always just done everything right. The top of the market is higher than it’s been in a long, long time. It just looks like this is an opportune time. The family is ours, both top and bottom, and we’ve got lots of sisters and brothers. It just seems like it’s good economics.

“… It’s very tough. We’re not in the horse business just for the economics…. (But) in order to succeed in the horse business, you have to run it as a business. You have to take the right kind of care of not only your horse, but economic care of your farm to keep everything going at the highest of quality. I think she’ll be one of the top mares over there, and we’ll see how the market values her.”

But when time came to sell at Fasig-Tipton something tugged at the Governor, more than his pocket book. Heart strings. He didn’t sell his prized mare. He kept her.  This is what the DRF’s Joe Nevills later reported:

“Brereton Jones had $4.9 million staring him in the face at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale, and the former governor of Kentucky decided that he preferred having his mare, 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, in the barn.

The daughter of Proud Citizen was offered at the sale in foal to leading commercial sire Tapit and returned to Jones’s Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., after being bought back to produce her first foal, a colt.

A horse born under those circumstances certainly comes with great expectations, and he stood up to them well, as one of two Airdrie-bred and -consigned colts to bring $900,000 during the second session of the Keeneland September yearling sale Sept. 13.

“It was very gratifying because dad had said all summer and even before that he felt this was the best group of horses we’d ever brought over to Keeneland, that Book 1 group especially,” said Bret Jones, son of Brereton. “It’s nice when everything comes together, and we all know how many different hoops you’ve got to jump through in order to get to the actual sale day. They jumped through them and passed everything with flying colors.”

The colt was purchased by the partnership of William Mack and Robert Baker, who also campaigned Proud Citizen, a Grade 2 winner, Kentucky Derby runner-up, and longtime resident of the Airdrie stallion barn prior to his death in June.

The Jones family stayed in for a portion of the Tapit colt after Mack and Baker were the winning bidders, ensuring that he will follow his broodmare sire to the Airdrie Stud roster if his ontrack resume warrants it.

“That’s the fun of the horse business,” Brereton Jones said. “If you can do these things and do them with friends, times just seem to get better instead of worse.”

Now, the son of the great Tapit and the son of the Jones’ own Believe You Can is embarking on his own grand plan.  Today, in the 5th at Laurel Park, Believe in Royalty will make his third career start.

In his debut, at Delaware Park on Aug. 28, he closed with a rush to finish third, but was beaten just one length. On Oct. 9, trainer Larry Jones had him ready, and he blew out to the front and carried jockey Alex Cintron all the wire to the wire, 21/2 lengths in front on a sloppy racetrack.

Today, he will get his third try at a mile and will face winners for the first time. And, on paper, he may have his hands full with Rivington, a son of To Honor and Serve trained by Graham Motion. That won broke his maiden in September at Delaware by a whopping 5 lengths on debut.

But I wouldn’t count out Believe in Royalty.  Not if you believe in destiny.  Not if you believe in miracles. Not if you believe in the miracle of horse racing.

I’ll be tuned in at 2:30 p.m. ET.  Maybe you should be, too.