Oaklawn News

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 18, 2020) – Bo Hirsch, LLC’s lightly raced Ce Ce demonstrated she could eventually join the long list of champion females that have won Oaklawn’s signature race for older fillies and mares when she overcame post position 14 to win Saturday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) by a head over Ollie’s Candy.

Ce Ce broke sharply and settled off the pace in fifth, while Ollie’s Candy took advantage of her rail position to battle Cookie Dough for the early lead through an opening quarter in :22 1/5. Ollie’s Candy had full control after a half-mile in a crisp :45 3/5 and continued to hold the advantage to just before the wire when Ce Ce got up to win the photo finish in a final time of 1:43 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Point of Honor, who got shuffled back at the start, came from last to get third.

“That was great,” trainer Michael McCarthy said. “It was little hard for me to see through the shadows and stuff. I couldn’t tell if she was actually gaining on horses or what. They were rolling up front. We were in a great spot. That was a tough one (drawing post 14). Unfortunately, the horses I thought we had to beat were all directly inside of us and I thought best laid plans would have been if Serengeti Empress would go ahead and be the controlling speed. Things didn’t work out that way, obviously. The complexion of the race totally changed after that. We were able to sit in a perfect spot, three to four lengths off of them. I’m OK with it now. Had the photo been the other way, I probably wouldn’t have been OK with it.”

Street Band finished fourth and was followed by Saracosa, Horologist, Go Google Yourself, Lady Apple, Awe Emma, Queen Nekia, 2-1 favorite Serengeti Empress, Come Dancing, Coldwater and Cookie Dough.

Ce Ce, a 4-year-old homebred filly by Elusive Quality, improved her record to four wins from six starts and has now won $726,600. She returned $9.80, $5.80 and $4.60 as the 7-2 second choice.

Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1 p.m. first post. While no fans are permitted to experience racing onsite during this time, they can to watch and wager through OaklawnAnywhere.com or any ADW of their choice.

Stakes Quotes:

Winning trainer Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce: “That was great. It was little hard for me to see here through the shadows and stuff. I couldn't tell if she was actually gaining on horses or what. They were rolling up front. We were in a great spot. That was a tough one (drawing post 14). Unfortunately, the horses I thought we had to beat were all directly inside of us and I thought best laid plans would have been if Serengeti Empress would go ahead and be the controlling speed. Things didn’t work out that way, obviously. The complexion of the race totally changed after that. We were able to sit in a perfect spot, three to four lengths off of them. I’m OK with it now. Had the photo been the other way, I probably wouldn’t have been OK with it.”

Winning Jockey Victor Espinoza, Ce Ce: “It was great. The idea was to break sharp. I had to use my brains a little to not go into the first turn too wide. I thought if I could hit the turn four or five wide, then I’m in good shape. I knew if she was good enough, she’d win the race so I encouraged her out of the gate and put her in a good position. I hit the first turn, three or four wide and it was perfect. I was smiling because it was exactly what I wanted. Down the backside I had to put her in the race because I didn’t want the speed to get away from me. At the three-eighths, I put her behind the speed and just waited. Turning for home I was just loaded. It’s always fun to ride horses like Ce Ce. She’s an amazing filly.”

Trainer John Sadler, second with Ollie’s Candy: “I’m thrilled. I thought she ran great. The instructions to (jockey) Joel (Rosario) were to just not waste the post (post 1). His hands weren’t tied. He did what he had to do to get into position. I was a little surprised they went that fast, but I’m very pleased with the effort. This race has been in the plans all along.”

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, third on Point of Honor: “We lost all our chance at the start. She broke not very fast, but not slow either. We just got sandwiched back. The plan had been to be more tactical. But, she still put in an amazing effort.”