Letter to the Editor: A Tale of Two Apple Blossom Winners, by Catherine Riccio

In the 1980s the horse racing game was filled with white bridles and D. Wayne Lukas winning just about every weekend stakes race from coast to coast. The slogan which handicappers used was "D. Wayne off the plane," referring to his ability to ship horses to different tracks and pick up stakes wins. Several of Lukas's fillies included Landaluce, Terlingua, Lady's Secret, Life's Magic, Family Style, Lucky Lucky Lucky, Miss Huntington and the list goes on. When I think back of my first years working at the track, two fillies...

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Eclipse Champions Clash in Apple Blossom

After the focus on points races for Derby and Oaks contenders taking up headlines over recent weekends, the distaff division gets a match up worthy of the front page as 2021 Eclipse champions Letruska (Super Saver) and Ce Ce (Elusive Quality) meet for the first time in Oaklawn's GI Apple Blossom H. Both are previous winners of the Hot Springs signature race, as the Fausto Gutierrez-trained Letruksa won the Apple Blossom in 2021 and the Mike McCarthy-conditioned Ce Ce took the 2020 edition. The two have otherwise taken divergent paths,...

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Champion Jackie's Warrior Returns a Winner in the Count Fleet

Champion Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) returned as good ever, taking the GIII Count Fleet Sprint H. in gate-to-wire fashion Saturday at Oaklawn. Receiving first-time Lasix for this seasonal bow, the 1-2 chalk took up his preferred position at the head of affairs, zipping out to a clear lead. He was quickly joined by 28-1 shot Empire of Gold (Goldencents), who pressed the Eclipse winner through a sharp first quarter in :21.61. Jackie's Warrior tugged a bit clear of the longshot through a :44.51 half-mile and turned for home in front....

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'Jackie' Back in Count Fleet

Kirk and Judy Robison's Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) will make his 4-year-old debut and first start since being named 2021's champion male sprinter at the Eclipse Awards as the highweight in Saturday's GIII Count Fleet H. at Oaklawn. Starting his career perfect in four starts, including convincing wins in the GI Runhappy Hopeful S. and GI Champagne S., the $95,000 Keeneland September buy suffered his first two losses in his only two-turn attempts to date, running fourth at 9-10 in the GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile and third in last...

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Oaklawn to Honor Hall of Famers

Oaklawn will host its first even Hall of Fame Day Apr. 16. The day, honoring members of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, will be highlighted by several special events, including winner's circle presentations. The feature race will be the GIII Count Fleet Sprint H. Race fans will receive a commemorative poster while supplies last, and an autograph session with Hall of Fame members will take place on the north end of the Grandstand from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. "There are only a few other racing...

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Cabrera Out For Rest of Oaklawn Meet

Oaklawn leading rider David Cabrera likely will miss the remainder of the 2021-2022 meeting after sustaining upper back, neck and head injuries from a spill in Friday's first race, his agent Joe Santos said. Santos said Cabrera has compressed C5 and C6 vertebrae, crushed cheekbones and suffered a concussion in the accident, which occurred in the upper stretch after his mount Mostly Awesome (Fusaichi Pegasus) clipped heels when in tight and fell, throwing the jockey to the ground. A trailing horse jumped the fallen Mostly Awesome near the three-sixteenths pole,...

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Champion Ce Ce Wins Azeri Thriller

Ce Ce (Elusive Quality), game winner of the 2020 GI Apple Blossom H., underscored her affinity for Oaklawn with another game victory in Saturday's GII Azeri S. The 2021 champion female sprinter was squeezed slightly at the start by the wayward Lady Mystify (Bernardini), while Pauline's Pearl (Tapit) took the worst of it and was forced back sharply as defending Azeri champ and race favorite Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) raced out to take control. Showing the way through an opening quarter in :23.44 followed by a :47.53 half, the leader continued to...

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Constitution Colt Stays Perfect, Earns 'Rising Star' Tag

We the People (Constitution) proved his good-looking debut was not a flash in the pan with another dominant score in an allowance at Oaklawn Saturday, earning the 'TDN Rising Star' distinction. The $230,000 FTFMAR purchase donned cap and gown with a powerful 5 3/4-length score in his one-mile career bow at this oval Feb. 12, earning an 83 Beyer Speed Figure. Hammered down to 2-5 favoritism to repeat in this first try against winners, We the People broke well and set his sights on the leader, hustling up to press...

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Diodoro Fined $1,000 at Oaklawn After Class 4 Positive

Robertino Diodoro, currently second in wins and fourth by earnings in the Oaklawn Park trainer standings, had a fifth-place finisher from three months ago disqualified via stewards' ruling Monday because of a Class 4 dexamethasone positive. Although the DQ ruling itself did not impose a fine upon Diodoro, a separate stewards' ruling fined him $1,000 under the "absolute insurer" clause. By issuing a separate fine, the Oaklawn stewards handled Diodoro's Class 4 positive similar to how they did in 2020 when Diodoro had two winners and a fifth-place horse disqualified...

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Ricky Courville Joins TDN Writers' Room

Heading into the GII Rebel S. a lot of people may not have known the name Ricky Courville. That's the way it is when you're a small-time trainer based in Louisiana who, going into the Rebel, had never had a graded stakes winner, let alone one in a $1-million race. They know who he is now. Courville pulled off the upset of the year when winning the Rebel with 75-1 shot Un Ojo (Laoban), a one-eyed horse who now has enough points to make it into the field for the...

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Secret Oath Stings Rivals in Honeybee

Briland Farm homebred Secret Oath (Arrogate) laid down yet another marker on her march toward the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, streaking clear of her foes for a fluent 7 1/2-length romp in Saturday's GIII Honeybee S. at Oaklawn Park. Prohibitively favored, with GII Golden Rod S. runner-up Yuugiri (Shackleford) the only other one the bettors wanted, Secret Oath had to be re-balanced after breaking a bit inward at the start and was a joint-last into the clubhouse turn as Optionality (Gun Runner) and Yuugiri matched motors up front. A fraction...

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At 86, Lukas Eyes Kentucky Oaks Win With Secret Oath

Wayne Lukas has won the GI Kentucky Oaks four times, but should there be a fifth this year it would no doubt be among the most special accomplishments of this Hall of Famer's career. He's no longer able to attack the race with an arsenal of well-bred, expensive and talented horses sent his way by some of the sport's biggest owners. Those days are long gone. Instead, the 86-year-old trainer will have to overcome the odds and an inherent bias in the sport against older trainers and try to win...

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