April 15, 2011
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, April 15, 2011) – With 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta now enjoying a peaceful retirement at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, Fox Hill Farm’s Havre de Grace served notice that she is ready to fill the void left in the older female division with her second straight victory in Friday’s $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn Park, a race the multiple champion won twice during her career.
Sent to post as the heavy 1-2 favorite against four other runners, Havre de Grace was settled into fourth-place by jockey Ramon Dominquez as Absinthe Minded took control early and set leisurely fractions of :23 4/5 and :47 4/5 for the first half mile. Switch, who had been tracking in second, took a short advantage as they came into the stretch, but the favorite proved too tough as she rallied down the middle of the stretch to collar her main rival within the final furlong and edged away to win by three-quarters of a length. Switch held second, 1 ¼ lengths in front of the pacesetter. Miss Match and Belle Watling completed the order of finish. Winning time was 1:42.19 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track.
“We’re just glad she ran to her ability and to the way she had been training,” said trainer Larry Jones. “She’s a top quality filly and when we got her in the barn we quickly realized that she might be something special and I’m glad she’s living up to what we feel she can be.”
“Switch didn’t quit. I respect her. I saw what she did to Zenyatta and almost getting away from her last year, so I knew she was going to have to work to get it. It looks like the Good Lord got behind her or underneath her and carried her home there at the end.”
Havre de Grace, from the only crop by 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, was bred in Kentucky by Nancy S. Dillman. With her first career Grade 1 victory, she improved her record to 4-3-2 from nine career starts and has now earned $963,175 for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm.
“To win the Apple Blossom is sweet,” said Porter. This filly certainly deserves it.”
Havre de Grace paid $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10.
The supporting feature on the 11-race card was the $75,000 Bachelor Stakes, won by California invader Road Ready. It was the second straight stakes victory for trainer Jeff Bonde, who also won Thursday’s $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) with Smiling Tiger and who will saddle Sway Away in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).
Road Ready, a 3-year-old More Than Ready colt, rallied from sixth place to win by three-quarters of a length over Phillippe. Grant Jack was third, while the City Cool, the 8-5 favorite, was fourth.
The winner paid $10.00, $4.80 and $4.20.
Live racing at Oaklawn will resume Saturday for the final day of the 2011 race meet. Highlighting the 12-race card will be the 75th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). First post is 12 noon and the feature is scheduled as race 11 at 5:58 p.m.