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Some horses just know how to win, no matter the competition level or location, and there could’ve been no better examples of that sentiment than what we saw at Oaklawn Park this weekend. Even without any Kentucky Derby (G1) or Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep races on the slate, we had plenty of entertaining action to choose from in our latest Three Stars of the Week:
In what was billed as a two-horse race on paper, the stretch battle in Saturday’s Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) developed in that exact fashion – though instead of the battle coming between the 2-time Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Monomoy Girl and last year’s Preakness Stakes (G1) champion Swiss Skydiver, it was Monomoy Girl versus the tough-as-nails Letruska. After setting the early pace as expected, Letruska gave up the lead to Monomoy Girl at the top of the stretch, but jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. refused to let her give up and encouraged her to re-engage the seemingly undefeatable favorite. Letruska surprised everyone as she rallied late to win by the narrowest of margins and become just the second Grade 1 winner whose career started in Mexico, where Letruska won a pair against fillies at age 3. She’s now established herself as a legitimate threat in a division that always brings excitement.
Silver State sat a perfect stalking trip early, then emerged from the midst of a six-horse stretch battle to win Saturday’s Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for his fifth straight victory. After establishing himself as an early Kentucky Derby contender early last year, he stumbled a bit and took some time off to grow and develop, a move that seems to have done wonders because he remains undefeated since returning from the layoff. He defeated several tough graded stakes winners for this one and looks like a leading contender in the older dirt male division as we head into the summer.
You’re darn right this horse is one of the Three Stars. After knocking on the door against much tougher graded stakes rivals, Tizamagician took a class drop for Sunday’s Tokyo City Cup (G3) and responded with a dominating 9-length victory, his first in a stakes. He capped a stellar weekend for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who saddled Saturday’s Californian Stakes (G2) winner Royal Ship and has had among the nation’s hottest barns in the past few months. Watch out for both horses as the summer progresses at Del Mar, which hosts this year’s Breeders’ Cup in November.
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