Racing Dudes Top 4: #5 Plum Pretty, #3 Absinthe Minded, #1 Tiz Miz Sue, #4 Twelve Twenty Two
Oaklawn Wizard Exacta: 1/ALL
Thanks to the owner of Havre De Grace, Rick Porter, and her trainer Larry Jones, the Apple Blossom will not uphold the prestige that it has had in previous years. Jones shipped Havre De Grace to Oaklawn last week, and claimed if the weights for the Apple Blossom were fair she would run. The weights came back very fair in most people’s eyes, but Porter and Jones decided not to run anyway. The truth is they never were going to run in the first place. This all stems from a grudge that they are holding on racing secretary Pat Pope. Pope sets the weights at Delaware Park as well. Last summer he set Havre De Grace to be two pounds heavier than Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap, which I agreed was unfair. Havre De Grace lost the race by a nose.
If Rick Porter and Larry Jones want to hold a grudge with Pat Pope that is fine with me, but they shouldn’t have made a scene about it. Their antics have hurt this race dearly. Not only is Havre De Grace not running, but she scared off the main competition in It’s Tricky. Then when they announced they were not running it was too late for It’s Tricky to make travel arrangements. The petty actions of these two men will not be forgotten by the passionate fans of Hot Springs. I would say they have lost a lot of fans over this whole mess, because in the end that is who suffers the most from this ordeal. Anyway, let’s get on to the horses who matter…those that are actually running in this race!
The field is headlined by two local horse that have been battling against each other all year: Tiz Miz Sue (KY) and Absinthe Minded (KY). Tiz Miz Sue was the winner of the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes, which serves as the local prep for the Apple Blossom. Her luck at Oaklawn had not been good over the years going into that race, but she turned the tables on her rivals with a powerful explosion down the lane as she cruised to an easy three length victory. The race was the best she’s ever ran according to the speed figures, and according to the eye-ball test. If she can repeat that performance there won’t be much doubting was the winner of the Apple Blossom will be. Joe Rocco is in to ride the horse for the second straight time.
If Tiz Miz Sue bounces off that big race, look for Absinthe Minded to pick up the pieces. Absnithe Minded won the Pippin Stakes in January, and ran the best race of her career when she won th Bayakoa Stakes in February. It looked as though she bounced a bit in the Azeri Stakes, but her local workouts are suggesting she is fit and ready for a monster race this time out. She’s worked three bullets since the Azeri Stakes. As always, Terry Thompson will have the mount for Hall of Fame trainer D Wayne Lukas.
While the two big local horses will get plenty of attention from the Oaklawn bettors, Plum Pretty (PA) comes into the race as the most accomplished horse. Last year she won the Grace 1 Kentucky Oaks, as well as the Grade 2 Cotillion Stakes. We last saw her in early November where she finished fifth in the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. Her workouts have been steady leading up to this race, including a lighting fast four furlong bullet on Monday. Even though she hasn’t run in a while you’d have to think she is the logical pick to win this race. Bob Baffet usually doesn’t ship horses unless they are ready to run big, and jockey Rafael Bejarano is signed on to ride.
Twelve Twenty Two (FL) is a horse that could play a big role in the race as well. She’s won her last three starts by a combined seventeen lengths. Her form looks to be ultra sharp as she comes off a twelve length victory in an ungraded Handicap at Sunland last time out. The big question will be if she is ready for this big jump in class? Her only race against graded company was in the Humana Distaff Stakes at Churchill Downs, where she was a well beaten seventh. However, this field is a little softer than that one was. Rounding out the field will be Holy Heavens (FL). She was a winner in her first race of 2012, but struggled when finishing fourth last time out. This will be a class test for her as well.