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2011 Apple Blossom Handicap

Owner Rick Porter leads Havre de Grace to the winner's circle after the Apple Blossom Handicap

Date: 04/15/2011

The feature race on the Friday of Arkansas Derby week is the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. Azeri Stakes (G3) winner Havre de Grace was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the field of 5, over 2-1 second choice Switch, second in the Santa Margarita (G1) after winning the Santa Monica (G1) both at Santa Anita, and 8-1 third choice, Santa Margarita winner Miss Match.

Havre de Grace takes the lead on the outside

Jockey Terry Thompson sent 11-1 Absinthe Minded to the lead first time past the stands and she set an uncontested pace of 23.90, 47.92, and 1:11.99 while 1 1/2 lengths in front of Switch stalking her second. Into the stretch, Switch moved up, poking her head in front in mid-stretch through 1 mile in 1:42.19, but Havre de Grace, third early, came out 4 wide into the lane and closed strongly late to win by 3/4 length in 1:42.19 over the fast track. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to pacesetter Absinthe Minded third.

Also check out the Count Fleet Handicap on Thursday.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 3   Havre de Grace     Dominguez     3.00    2.20  2.10
 5   Switch             Rosario               3.00  2.10
 1   Absinthe Minded    Thompson                    2.60

Winning Time:  1:42.19

$2 Exacta 3-5                 5.40
$1 Trifecta 3-5-1             7.10
Results Chart from DRF.

Left: Havre de Grace in the winner's circle with owner Rick Porter wearing the pink flowers.

Right: Trainer Larry Jones leads Havre de Grace in the walking ring. Jones said, "We know it's a long year, but the number one goal from here on in is the Breeders' Cup, and being from Delaware, I'm sure Mr. Porter would want us to look at the Delaware Handicap (G2). That race makes sense, I think. We aren't going to gut her by running her every month or three weeks. We are going to treat her like the champion we think she can be. You can't sew it up in April, but we feel we certainly have the leader and the horse ready to be the champion."

Left: Havre de Grace poses in the post parade. Her jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "She ran awesome today. Coming up to the 3/8 pole they got away from me a little more than I was expecting, but I didn't panic because I know how good she is. My filly accelerated great down the stretch and she made an amazing run. There is no telling how good this filly really is. It was very exciting."

Right: Havre de Grace returns after the race.

Left: Second place finisher Switch in the post parade. Her trainer John Sadler said, "She was pushed a little bit on the first turn, but she settled pretty nice. She was able to catch (Absinthe Minded), but she just couldn't hold off the winner. I'm happy with her effort. Maybe next time we will get a couple pounds from her." Jockey Joel Rosario added, "She ran well today and tried hard, the other horse was just too much horse today. She got beat today, but I'm proud of her effort. We were just second best today."

Right: Third place finisher Absinthe Minded leads shortly after the start. The 11-1 fourth choice set the pace under jockey Terry Thompson but tired late to finish third beaten 2 lengths. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 19 starts, earning $284,293 for owner-breeder Briland Farm.

The $75,000 Bachelor Stakes featured a field of 7 three-year-olds sprinting 6 furlongs. City Cool was the 8-5 favorite off a distant 6th in the San Vicente (G2), over 5-2 second choice Elusive Deputy, making his second career start, and 4-1 Road Ready, 6th in the Jack Goodman last out.

Elusive Deputy battled for the lead with City Cool down the backstretch through fractions of 21.40 and 44.87. Elusive Deputy tired badly at the top of the lane allowing City Cool to inherit the lead through 5/8 in 57.83, but the fast pace set the race up for the closers. Road Ready, 6th early, and Philippe, last early, closed with a rush with Road Ready holding on for the 3/4 length win in 1:10.87. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back from Philippe to Grant Jack third.

Results Chart from DRF.

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