There are countless ways to analyze the full field of 14 in Saturday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn Park, but my primary focus will be on fillies and mares making their second start off a layoff in the 1 1/16-mile affair.
#5 POINT OF HONOR (10-1) was a filly I became a fan of last season when she captured the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico and later placed second behind two tough Chad Brown-trained fillies in both the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1).
All three of those race were at 1 1/8 miles or longer, so there is some concern that the Apple Blossom distance might be on the short side for the daughter of Curlin. However, at the potential price, we’ll take a chance on her.
Unraced after the Alabama until a Mar. 7 overnight handicap at Tampa Bay Downs, Point of Honor was favored at 3-5 going 7 furlongs. Despite the relative weakness of the field, the distance, effects of the layoff, and the likelihood it was a mere get-fit trip for a bigger assignment, resulted in a second-place effort by four lengths.
Trainer George Weaver is hitting a remarkable 30% clip so far this season, and the expectation is the filly will fire an even bigger effort here. She’ll be without regular rider Javier Castellano, who will be out for another couple weeks, but Drayden Van Dyke is a capable substitute.
#1 OLLIE’S CANDY (12-1) might not be up to this class level despite a victory in a weak renewal of the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) last summer, which she won using rare front-running tactics, but she’s another primed to run better second off the bench.
Encountering the in-form #14 Ce Ce and Hard Not to Love in the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita last month, Ollie’s Candy could only finish third, beaten seven lengths. She’s capable of moving forward for trainer John Sadler, who won this race recently with champion Stellar Wind.
I’ll be betting Point of Honor to Win and keying her in Exactas over Ollie’s Candy as well as #6 STREET BAND (15-1) and #13 LADY APPLE (15-1). The latter two have both run twice this season and are capable of much better than what they showed in the Azeri (G2) last month when #11 Serengeti Empress had no opposition early and coasted on a sloppy track. We’re hoping for a more contested pace Saturday.
- Win: #5 Point of Honor
- Exactas: 5 with 1,6,13