Five Grade 1 Winners Clash in Apple Blossom
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
The Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares at Oaklawn Park Saturday has drawn a stellar field of 14, with Grade 1 winners Ce Ce, Come Dancing, Ollie’s Candy, Serengeti Empress, and Street Band clashing over 1 1/16-miles.
Ce Ce, winner of the Grade 1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita last month, drew on the outside and is 7-2 morning line. She flashed talent when debuting at the Arcadia track on April 12 of last year. She scored sprinting, but was rushed into Grade 1 company at Belmont Park just two months later and finished fourth. The daughter of Elusive Quality was off from June until February 17 of this year, and is unbeaten in two 2020 starts. Michael McCarthy trains the chestnut filly for Bo Hirsch LLC.
Come Dancing, who was originally slated for retirement following the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) last fall, is back in training and will be starting for trainer D Wayne Lukas for the first time. While with Carlos Martin, the daughter of Malibu Moon won the Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga last year, followed by the Gallant Bloom (G2) at Belmont Park. She is an eight-time winner in 14 starts, but has not won over this distance since 2018.
Serengeti Empress is the reigning victor of the Longines Kentucky Oaks. She was brilliant in the March 14 Azeri Stakes (G2) here, winning by more than six lengths under Joe Talamo. The Tom Amoss trainee was Grade 1 placed over a mile, seven furlongs, and nine furlongs last year, capping the season by finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Talamo will be back aboard the daughter of Alternation, who has earned over $1.7 million.
Popular runner Street Band won the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx in September, defeating the likes of Guarana and Horologist, the latter of whom is in this field. Larry Jones trains the daughter of Istan, who was third in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) in January, ran fourth here in the Azeri (G2) on March 14. Sophie Doyle will ride.
Ollie’s Candy drew the rail. John Sadler trains the daughter of Candy Ride, who will have Joel Rosario aboard. Rosario was up when she finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November. In July she won the Clement L Hirsch at Del Mar, and is also Grade 1 placed on the grass. Last out, Ollie’s Candy was third behind Ce Ce in the Beholder Mile.
They are not the only class horses in the race. Cookie Dough, who is 10-1 morning line, won the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park last out, and is two for three at the distance. She is multiple Grade 2 placed and makes her first Grade 1 start here for Saffie Joseph Jr. Abel Cedillo will ride.
Go Google Yourself, by Into Mischief, is coming off a win in the Bayakoa (G3) here over this trip. She has won three of her last four starts for trainer Paul McGee, and is unbeaten on the surface. Lady Apple was a Grade 3 winner here a year ago in the Fantasy, and has since added three more Grade 3 events for trainer Steve Asmussen. Grade 2 winner Point of Honor was twice Grade 1 placed last year, and was second in her 2020 debut after a lengthy layoff from August until March. George Weaver trains the daughter of Curlin, and Drayden Van Dyke will ride.
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