When you think about Oaklawn, the Apple Blossom Stakes is one of the first things that always comes to mind. It serves as the main objective for older fillies at Oaklawn, and also brings in quite the competition from around the country. Horse of the Year winners Zenyatta and Havre De Grace have won this race, and last year Plum Pretty put her name next to those greats as she held off Absinthe Minded and Tiz Miz Sue to prevail. The Apple Blossom is one of only two Grade 1 races that Oaklawn has, and will be ran on Friday April 12th, which is the day before the Arkansas Derby.
Plum Pretty and Absinthe Minded have been retired, but the third place finisher from last years race, Tiz Miz Sue, will be returning for her six-year-old campaign. Tiz Miz Sue won the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn last season, and also finished second in two ungraded stakes before that. The daughter of Tiznow has been ultra consistent throughout her career, and was only beaten by a neck to Royal Delta in the Delaware Handicap. Royal Delta, of course, is the back to back Breeders Cup Ladies Classic winner so this shows just how talented Tiz Miz Sue can be when she runs her best race. She comes into the meet off a small layoff, but has had two three furlong workouts at Oaklawn since her return. From a class standpoint she is a standout among the local fillies.
While Tiz Miz Sue has the class advantage, Applauding could have the most potential. Many felt Applauding was on her way to the Kentucky Oaks last season before an injury ruined her chances. She was two for two in races before the injury, winning by a combined FIFTEEN lengths! After almost a year absence she returned in an allowance race at Churchill Downs this November, and crushed her opponents again, winning by one and a half lengths in wire to wire fashion. Applauding will be part of a 20 string stable that trainer Al Stall will bring to Oaklawn this year. Stall’s stable is always very strong at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and you would think he will have success at Oaklawn as well.
She’s All In is another horse that you can’t forget about. This Oklahoma bred has won 14 of 29 races lifetime, and finished second to Tiz Miz Sue in the Azeri last year. She comes into Oaklawn on a two race win streak, where she dominated state bred competition at Remington Park this Fall. The Donnie K Von Hemel trainee has won two races at Oaklawn, and has hit the board six of seven times at the track. With that kind of consistency, and earnings of $766,605, she’s one you must respect.
Of course over the last several years the shippers have dominated the Apple Blossom. It’s hard to speculate about who might be coming in for that weekend, but you’d have to think trainers like Bob Baffert and Steve Asmussen will be pointing towards the race. Hopefully horses like My Miss Aurelia or Mamma Kimbo will be candidates to come in and take on the Oaklawn locals. Who ends up showing up is an unknown factor, but what is not unknown to anyone is how strong and entertaining this division has been over the last few years. With the class and potential of this year’s group, I see that tradition carrying on another year.