The Apple Blossom Handicap – Grade I
OP Race #2 1 1/16m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $700.000 For Fillies And Mares Four Years Old And Upward.
1 The Reaper John Henry Albarado R J 119
This 6 year old mare won the BC Juvenile Turf as a two year old and the KY Oaks as a three year old but since those heady days of success has been slowly declining. She is still very capable as she showed in the Go For Wand Handicap last year when popping up at long odds but her successes are few and far between these days. She can still work below 1.37 and whilst her old legs arent as quick as they used to be she may have a good win left in them and off a nice weight today with a decent draw it may be her best chance for some time,
2 Queenwood Smokey Stover Bejarano R 121
This former grade one winner ran an anonymous race in the BC last year after a successful season saw her take 4 graded stakes races . Her seasonal debut was a bit lack lustre but she looked back to her best last time when cantering home in a GG open allowance and her work time 10 days later was an impressive 1.36 and 2. Top weight shouldnt stop her beating most if not all of these but weight at HRP is almost as unreal life as the draw so it wont be that easy.
3 Toleration Mb Stables Velazquez J R 118
Mb stables is a master at getting good horses into these handicaps with very low weights and this is one of three he has in this field which follow that criteria. Just three quarters of a length behind Queenwood in the Fantasy last year she won the $500.000 WO Oaks before a very good third in the garde one CCA Oaks. A gentle seasonal debut saw her third in a little allowance at TP but her works since suggest that has brought her on a lot. A 1.36 and 2 work coupled with bottom weight says she can win this.
4 Poor Perception Mb Stables Leparoux J R 118
Won a couple of allowances at TAM and GG last year but showed she has a touch of class on seasonal debut when a one length third in the Santa Maria Stakes. She had KTD behind that day and gets a 2 Lb advantage here so that should be enough to see her in at the end and in front of a good few.
5 K T D Aer Stables Pennington F 120
She won the KY Oaks last year pretty impressively and was then runner up in both the Acorn and CCA Oaks both at grade one. A wide draw put paid to her BC chances but she looked right back to her best in a SA Open allowance on seasonal debut. After that win she was fancied to do well in the Santa Maria Stakes but ran an odd race finishing two lengths back in sixth in a race time slower than her allowance win a month before. consistency has never been her strong suit and its hard to find excuses for that last run so you have to rely on trust that she is going to be her brilliant best today.
6 Down And Out Mb Stables Ortiz I Jr 118
A consistent sort that won a little sprint allowance at TAM last time there is little on form to suggest she will be a threat here but in true HRP ‘everything is the same’ style she is working quicker than KTD so if that has anything to do with it she does have a chance. The fact that she sprinted last time makes me think she may be sent as a rabbit for her stable companions in this but i have no proof of that opinion so your guess is as good as mine.
7 Osmium D J C Racing Stables Talamo J 121
Not only does she get joint top weight but she is drawn wide too which severely hinders her chances in this race, A consistent daughter of Copper Bottom she looked pretty game in winning the Turn Back The Alarm Handicap last year but had less weight to cope with and this is a stronger field. Having said that her two runs this year have the look of an improver about them, first out she won the La Canada Stakes and then ran a fine second in The Azeri. With less weight and a better draw i would be more hopeful.
8 Cheerful Goddess TwinTowersRacing Maldonado E 119
She has been entered in just about every type of race in a 21 race career, turf sprints, dirt routes, allowances and grade ones. This year things have looked up for her as she has settled into what looks like her best trip and surface and run two nice races. A good win first up in the Ladies Handicap she was then only beaten a length in probably the best fillies and mares field outside a BC race when fourth in the Santa Margarita last time. On that effort even with a wide draw i really respect her chances in this.
This is a really nice field with some established stars and a few up and comers. Queenwood would have to be at her brilliant best to win with top weight and The Reaper and KTD have plenty to prove after some disappointing efforts. The three Mb Stable runners are all on good handicap marks if they can run their works but out of all of them i rather like Cheerful Goddess if the wide draw doesnt kill her chances.