The $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares April 15 at Oaklawn is being targeted by I’m a Chatterbox, runner-up for an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly last year, and multiple stakes winner Cassatt, trainer Larry Jones said Friday morning. Jones was in Hot Springs this weekend and saddled Thirteen Arrows to a second-place finish in Saturday’s $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes.
Jones said he would probably run only one of the two in the 1 1/16 Apple Blossom, a race he won in 2011 with Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. Both horses are based at Fair Grounds, with I’m a Chatterbox up to 3-furlong workouts following an unplaced finish in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Oct. 30 at Keeneland to close her 2015 campaign.
“She’s just now back to breezing, but she runs very well fresh,” Jones said.
I’m a Chatterbox opened 2015 with an eight-length victory in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds and was disqualified from a nose victory (interference approaching the wire) in the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) July 26 at Saratoga. The Coaching Club was I’m a Chatterbox’s first start since a third-place finish in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 1 at Churchill Downs.
“She runs good fresh, so we’re not so much worried about having to have a prep,” Jones said.
Jones said he doesn’t anticipate I’m a Chatterbox or Cassatt running in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom.
“Probably only one would come,” Jones said of the Apple Blossom. “We’ll just see who is the highest caliber at that time.”
I’m a Chatterbox has a 5-2-2 record from 11 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,304,614. She scored her biggest career victory in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (G1) Sept. 19 at Parx. Cassatt has a 7-1-1 record from 13 career starts and earnings of $709,233. In her last start, Cassatt finished third in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) Jan. 30 at Sam Houston Race Park after winning the race in 2015. She is entered in Saturday’s $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
Jones said he expects more Fair Grounds-based horses to be hitting the road over the next 45 days for the Apple Blossom.
“There’s four or five really good mares sitting in New Orleans, and they’re all probably going to be here for the Apple Blossom,” Jones said. “We may as well just get a van ready and throw everybody on there and save some hauling.”
Over the Moon
Multiple stakes winner Kiss Moon took another step toward her 5-year-old debut with a half-mile workout before the renovation break Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer David Vance. Breezing over a fast track, Kiss Moon went in :50.60, her third published work in Hot Springs this month following a 45-day freshening.
Vance is pointing Kiss Moon for the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn.
Kiss Miss has won 6 of 18 starts and earned $532,829 in her career for Vance, a four-time Oaklawn training champion, and owner/breeder Carl Pollard.
“He and I both need horses and that’s why she wasn’t retired or bred,” Vance said. “People tried to buy her in the middle of the summer. They got close, but they wouldn’t come up with what he thought was enough for her. It got close. If she runs real good this year, he’ll probably sell her.”
Vance said overseas interests wanted to buy the daughter of Malibu Moon as a broodmare prospect. Vance and Pollard also campaigned Kiss Moon’s dam, Grade 3 winner Kiss the Devil, and a half-sister, multiple graded stakes winner Kiss Mine.
“She’s got some pretty good residual value for a broodmare,” Vance said of Kiss Moon. “She’s as big and strong as her mother now. Last year, I was very, very disappointed in her year. She made her $250,000, but she didn’t do it like she should have. She was too inconsistent.”
Kiss Moon won 2 of 6 starts last year, including the grassy $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap (G3) June 6 at Churchill Downs and $300,000 Ladies Turf Stakes Sept. 19 at Kentucky Downs.
Kiss Moon has also exceled on dirt in her career, winning an entry-level allowance race before running second, beaten a half-length, in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting.
Vance said he hopes to use the Azeri as a prep for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn.
“If she does OK and handles the track and gets a piece, we’ll run her back here in the Apple Blossom,” Vance said. “If not, she’ll go to Kentucky and run in a grass race up there.”
Back to Sprints
Trainer Ron Moquett, currently Oaklawn’s leading trainer with 15 wins, said Gentlemen’s Bet will return to a sprint for his next start, the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn.
A multiple stakes-winning sprinter, Gentlemen’s Bet finished fifth in his two-turn debut Thursday at Oaklawn, a 1-mile allowance race for older horses. Moquett said before the race that he was using it as a stepping stone to the Count Fleet rather than the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 5, which Gentlemen’s Bet won last year.
“He’s made three-quarters of a million dollars sprinting, and we wanted to make sure we weren’t leaving something undone,” Moquett said before training hours Sunday morning. “I completely think that we should test it, but we’ll go back to what works. He basically told us that he’s a sprinter.”
Owned by Harry Rosenblum of Little Rock, Ark., Gentlemen’s Bet has won 7 of 18 starts and earned $738,490 in his career.
Gentlemen’s Bet, a 7-year-old son of Half Ours, ran third in the 2013 Count Fleet and seventh last year.
Terra Promessa, a ninth-length entry-level allowance winner Feb. 5 at Oaklawn, worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.60 Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen. Terra Promessa is a 3-year-old filly by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. … Wrath of Ruthie returned to the Oaklawn work tab Sunday morning, working a half-mile in :51 for Asmussen. Wrath of Ruthie suffered her first career defeat in a second-level allowance/optional claiming sprint Feb. 12 at Oaklawn. … Trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said he’s using a Thursday allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn as Far Right’s final prep for the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19. The Razorback is the final major local prep for the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16. Far Right won the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and $300,000 Southwest Stakes at last year’s Oaklawn meeting.
Source: Oaklawn Park