Retaliator Takes Apple Blossom Handicap

Apple Blossom Handicap (Grade 1)- $600.000 Purse
OP- For Fillies and Mares Four Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
April 14, 2017

One of the biggest topics of discussion from trainers in our virtual world is the topic of weight and the large influence it can have on races.  It does not matter if you are a big stable or a small stable, if you are running at the top level, or only at the free track, you are going to experience the impact of a weight advantage or disadvantage in any race that has a wide range of them in play.  Retaliator is an outstanding horse.  With this win, she has now won seven of eleven, including good looking victories with the NY-bred condition.   She also had a four or five pound advantage on the three who had the biggest resumes coming into the event, and in this game, that just makes so much of a difference.  It was exciting to see Notarized Kate and Wicked Heat going at it again, with Way Up again joining them, but it was hard to look past the weight advantages of others, and I could not do it when I made Retaliator my pick to win the race.  To Way Up’s credit, she handled her weight well, but Notarized Kate and Wicked Heat at the back show why this is a common discussion point in the forums.  Retaliator did nothing wrong, and she was placed brilliantly by Mb Stables here.  That’s why he wins so much!  It is also his third win in four years in the Apple Blossom. R J Albarado wins the stake for the first time.  Congratulations!  The time of the victory was 1:41.28, the second quickest in the history of the stake.  Here’s a deeper look at the race!

1/4 Mile (:23.71)- From the outside post, Frenched Rose broke well out of the gate for Maxmillion Farm, but it would eventually be two Mb Stables horses at the front of the field at this early point in the race.  Drill would have the lead, but only by a neck over stablemate Retaliator.   Notarized Kate (Pristine Stables) appeared to be in a comfortable position on the track, fourth, and 2 ½ lengths from the lead.  Way Up (Team 7 Illusions) was to her outside, and seemed to also be in a good spot.  Wicked Heat (EasyMoney Stables) was in her usual position at the back of the field early, running with Mint Condition (John Henry) and Make It Known (Mb Stables).

(½ Mile- :47.14)- We start to see some stretching out of the field as we hit a half mile and run further down the stretch and into the turn.  At the front end, Retaliator is holding up well running this steady pace, and she is able to pull about a full length ahead of Drill.  Behind them is where we begin to see separation, as Frenched Rose as dropped 2 ½ lengths from the lead.  The two that lost the most ground over the backstretch, however, were Way Up and Notarized Kate.  Way Up was still in the fourth spot, but dropped back four lengths now, and Notarized Kate seemed to struggle in the backstretch a little bit, and you have to wonder how much of an impact the weight was having on her.  Make It Known was making her intentions known moving into the turn and was pulling up to the outside of Way Up.  At the back, Wicked Heat had conceded 6 ½ lengths to the lead, and would run with Mint Condition.

(Top of Stretch, 1.5F To Go)- Here come Wicked Heat and Notarized Kate.  Right? Well, no.   Very little actually changes as the field rounds the turn and hits the top of the stretch.  Retaliator is looking really good with the lead, comfortably rounds the turn, and holds the same advantage over Drill, who remains tucked in on the rail, a little less then a full length back.  No change with the gap to the third place runner, Frenched Rose, either.  Way Up cut a length from the lead, but still had some ground to make up moving into the stretch.  The charge of Make It Known would begin to tail off.  At the back, Wicked Heat and Notarized Kate were matching strides side by side in the stretch like we are used too, but not where in the running order that we are accustomed to seeing.  Mint Condition, also one of the higher weights, was also hanging out with them.

Finish (1:41.28)- Retaliator is simply not going to be denied, and looks very impressive as she dominates in the stretch.  Her biggest challenger, Drill, could not keep up, and while Way Up was sharp in the stretch, she had way too much ground to make up for Retaliator and winning jockey R J Albarado to be concerned over her.   That late run by Way Up saw her get by Drill just in time to finish out the exacta.  Drill was consistent throughout and that was enough give her the third place check.  Frenched Rose never had a push, but held her ground to be fourth.   After her, the others were never a factor here.  Make It Known hangs on over Mint Condition for fourth, and unbelievably, Wicked Heat and Notarized Kate bring up the rear.

About The Winner: Retaliator, ridden to victory by R J Albarado,  is a four year old filly by La Briganderie and out of Don’t Blow It.  She was bred in New York as a third quarter two year old Mb Stables, who is the only trainer for which she has ever known.   With the win, she now has seven wins in eleven starts, and this was her first graded victory.  Her career earnings now sit at $686.870.

##   Horse Name Owner Name Jockey Odds   Fin Time SRF 
  Retaliator Mb Stables Albarado R J 3.50   11/2 1:41.28 — 
  Way Up Team 7 Illusions Gutierrez Mario 2.55   21/4 1:41.41 — 
  Drill Mb Stables Ortiz J L 33.60   31/2 1:41.51 — 
  Frenched Rose Maxmillion Farm Velazquez J R 22.95   42 1:41.63 — 
  Make It Known Mb Stables Smith M E 4.45   51/4 1:42.14 — 
  Mint Condition John Henry Bejarano R 6.75   6nk 1:42.22 — 
  Wicked Heat EasyMoney Stables Stevens G L 21.45   73/4 1:42.29 — 
  Notarized Kate Pristine Stables Leparoux J R 3.00   8 1:42.45 — 

Track: Fast

Time: :233  :47   1:102  1:411

$2 Mutuel Prices:

6 – Retaliator 9.00 4.60 3.10
3 – Way Up   4.20 2.80
5 – Drill     17.10

$1 Exacta: 6 – 3 Paid 32.50

$1 Trifecta: 6 – 3 – 5 Paid 823.60

Scratched: None

Winner picked by NS (Got ’em both this weekend!)

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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