In a little over 30 years, Jones has progressed from a commercial farmer in southwestern Kentucky, who owned one low-level race horse, to a successful full-time trainer, to a national standout with a long list of important major graded stakes victories. He added another sterling accomplishment to his resume in January 2011 when Havre de Grace was named Horse of the Year.
Jones experienced the full range of emotions in May 2008 when Proud Spell won the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and another filly standout in his barn, Eight Belles, suffered catastrophic ankle injuries the next afternoon while being pulled up after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby. Proud Spell continued on to win the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks and the Grade 1 Alabama and was named the 3-year-old filly champion.
Jones was back at the Derby in 2009 with Friesan Fire, the favorite off a string of victories in New Orleans, who ended up 18th in the Run for the Roses and 10th in the Preakness. Jones briefly retired at the end of 2009, and he switched roles with his wife, Cindy, and became her assistant. Jones, a tall, lean man who exercises many of his horses, returned to full-time training in January 2011 with a stable that was led by two talented stakes fillies, Joyful Victory and Havre de Grace. During her championship season, Havre de Grace defeated males in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga. Her only loss was a narrow setback against rival Blind Luck in one of the most exciting races of the year.