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JJohn Velazquez celebrates aboard Untapable after the Apple Blossom Handicap as owner Ron Winchell leads her to the winner's circle.
The $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) is the major race for older fillies and mares at Oaklawn Park, kicking off closing weekend at the historic Hot Springs oval. An estimated 21,000 were on hand on Friday afternoon for this 1 1/16 mile trip, with Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) winner Untapable sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the field of 7 off her close defeat in the Azeri (G2). In to challenge her included 9-2 second choice Gold Medal Dancer, who upset Untapable in the Azeri, and 10-1 third choice Sugar Shock, winner of the American Beauty in January but fourth in an allowance last time out.
Untapable leads down the stretch in the Apple Blossom
Past winners of the Apple Blossom Handicap
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Untapable Velazquez 2.40 2.20 2.10 4 Diva's Diamond Berry 15.60 5.40 5 Gold Medal Dancer Quinonez 2.40 Winning Time: 1:42.96 $2 Exacta 2-4 38.00 $1 Trifecta 2-4-5 61.20 $0.10 Superfecta 2-4-5-3 20.95
Left: Untapable in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, “I was awfully concerned with how sharp she's been, the works that she's put in. I thought Johnny did a great job with her into the first turn. Once they lined out down the backside, I thought she was really in a commanding position and ran extremely well from there.”
Right: Untapable returns after the race.
Left: Untapable in the infield saddling area before the race.
Right: Untapable in the post parade. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, “She had a race under her belt this time and obviously off a lay-off last time out she still ran a great race. Steve told me last time, ‘I’m not sure she’s a hundred percent fit’ and plus he was unsure about how she would like the track. Today, he told me she was ready and she showed it. He said she was working steadily and she was mad after her last race. That was a great effort from her today.”
Left: Second place finisher Diva's Diamond in the post parade. The 52-1 longshot raced fifth 5 lengths off the early pace under jockey Cliff Berry, then rallied late to get second beaten 2 1/2 lengths. The Karl Broberg trainee improved her record to 9 wins, 14 seconds, and 4 thirds in 38 starts, earning $593,420 for owner Jerry Namy.
Right: Third place finisher Gold Medal Dancer in the post parade. The 9-2 second choice stalked the pace in third 2 lengths off the pace under jockey Luis Quinonez, but could not improve late finishing third beaten 2 3/4 lengths. The Donnie Von Hemel trainee improved her record to 7 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 17 starts, earning $589,269 for owner-breeder Pin Oak Stable.
Left: The horses break from the gate for the Apple Blossom.
Right: The trophy and flowers in the winner's circle before the race. Notice the bird sitting on the whip in the statue behind them.
Results Chart from DRF.
Trainer Steve Asmussen who swept both stakes on the Friday card said, “I just told Luis in the paddock that when he gets away well he runs well. Luis had him away in good order, and he looked like he was in control all of the race. It would be great for him to develop into a Breeders' Cup Sprint kind of horse. I'm very proud to have this good of a horse for Mr. Durant. Hopefully, this is the first of many stakes wins for him.”
Winning jockey Luis Quinonez added, “He just broke good and got out there, and I just stayed out of his way and let him run. Turning for home I asked him to pick them up and he responded."
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