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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, April 17, 2021 —  Racing fans who do not appreciate the history of the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap do not appreciate the history of this Midwest classic and can’t really identify themselves as fans of the sport.

Yes, I, too, was surprised to that meaningful handicaps that have a significant impact on the highest levels of the sport still exist. Good to know that the position of Racing Secretary extends beyond just making races go.

The Apple Blossom has been won by many of the sport’s all-time great females. From Susan’s Girl (1975) to Bayakoa (1989) to Paseana (1992-1993) to Azeri (2002-2003-2004), Zenyatta (2008, 2010) to 2021 Hall of Fame nominee Havre de Grace, it makes the grade of American classic.

It is rare, however, when two budding Hall of Famers clash. Fate did not permit Zenyatta to face Rachel Alexandra, who was retired before a special edition with a $5 million purse could take place. But with time good things do come.

Since Susan’s Girl, victory in the Apple Blossom, first staged as a handicap in 1969 and elevated to a Grade 1 in 1982, has led to 11 championships, including Horse of the Year Azeri, the only three-time winner in the event’s history. And this doesn’t include Saturday’s two principal rivals.

Tomorrow, Monomoy Girl will be challenged by Swiss Skydiver going a mile and a sixteenth at Oaklawn Park. The flying in the ointment is rain today into tomorrow morning. Will it dry out significantly by post time, scheduled for 7:09 am EDT?

If there is a good deal of moisture in the surface, it’s advantage Monomoy Girl, who won her season’s debut over a sealed sloppy track, her first ever run in Hot Springs.

Monomoy Girl purposefully raced 3 to 4 wide throughout, Florent Geroux taking advantage of the better going while applying pressure, finishing on the crown of the wet track, powering away late. While improving her lifetime mark to (16) 14-2-0, she improved her wet-track form to 3-for-3.

Swiss Skydiver, it turns out, loves to fly, winning seven races at six different tracks. Showing none of the keenness demonstrated by ‘Monomoy’ in her first 2021 start, she rated under beautiful handling from Robby Albarado, found an ideal split into the lane, and sprinted off in a strong season’s debut.

Coming from the Grade 1 Beholder Mile, she stretches out a sixteenth to her best trip (3-for-4). She drops two pounds from 124 to 122 while ‘Monomoy’ picks up five to 124. Both are training very well and the timing for each is spot on.

However, we’re looking to upset both with Letruska (4-1). Unlucky to lose her latest, a rival caught a flyer out of the gate, forcing Letruska to play the waiting game. That’s what she did, but consequently was forced to lose ground throughout and lost the photo.

Subsequent to the Azeri, trainer Fausto Gutierrez drilled her a half mile twice, her latest a bullet 47.20, faster than 79 other workers at the distance. She loses Rosario to other commitments but picks up America’s leading rider, Irad Ortiz Jr.

Further, she is in receipt of six pounds from the legendary highweight and four pounds from the 2020 filly champion. We’ll take whatever value offered on the former Mexican queen at early line odds.


Maiden Allowances, Race 3

6-LET THEM EAT CAKE (3-1) to win at 5-2 or greater

Allowances, Race 8

3-SOUTH BEND (5-2) to win at early line odds or greater


Maiden Allowances, Race 8

6-CRYO (3-1) to win at 2-1 or greater; instant double with 1-Silver State (4-1) and 3-Fearless (7-2) [6 // 1.3]

G2 Oaklawn Park Handicap

Exacta Box 1.2.3

Trifecta Wheel: 1.3 // 1.2.3 // [2-Express Train, 6-Owendale]

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32 Responses

  1. With the clouds forming outside right now in NYC and the deluge we already had all day yesterday, tomorrow’s turf sprinkled Aqueduct card is hard to dig into at this point, and the Saturday Keeneland and Gulfstream cards are wholly uninspiring, save the nice feature in Lexington. Oaklawn is where it’s at, and I’m pumped for that Apple Blossom just as a fan. The big 3 can easily be giving us a BC Distaff preview here.

    On a separate note, boy are Oscar Barrera’s horses firing today. No Lime blasts the field in Race 2 by 7 lengths and change at almost 11/1, and probably should have been a higher price than that. Then Barrera also takes race 6 with a 14/1 shot. I don’t think the next sentence even needs to be put to words, so I’ll just leave it at that.

  2. I hear you Doc. I’m looking in Lexington and Hot Springs myself…

    As far as the Aqueduct upsets, I think I hear you–something about falling apples and trees?

  3. If the ‘bombs’ aren’t trained by Baffert, Pletcher, Brown, Mott,or ‘Shug’ then the trainer is cheating, right Mr. Pricci?

    1. Someone needed to be the Jim Jordan of HRI. I do believe you have the qualifications…

      1. The Pletcher Blue Blood, Bourbonic (Bernardini) took down Wood Memorial at 72-1 which counts as a “Bomb” with a capital B. Oscar won in bunches while running ’em back in a matter of days. I went to elementary school with a gal who married Albert Barerra (Laz). She became an exercise rider at Aqueduct/Belmont. WMC forgot to include Asmussen who won AK Derby with a double digit winner in Super Stock (Curlin).

  4. The Jim Jordan Oats have already been through the horse John. Best to simply skip over. “Who needs the static, just hurts the head” comes to mind. As for the Oscar Apple from the Tree comment, maybe a new med line could be added in the past performance lines? OB?

    Shift Sheik almost taking down Slew of Gold years back? Powerful stuff that OB boost factor provided. Same DNA, so you should at least consider the issue in the handicapping,

    The Apple Blossom should be a fun watch later today. I may not even place a wager. I for one am content to just watch and enjoy this one as a fan of the game.

    1. OSB JR has been around awhile and his win percentage was in normal ranges. Did he just have an exceptional day, or …

  5. 4/17/21


    6-tide of the sea play with the 1,2,7


    9th race
    3-Fearless, Play with the 1,4,6

    11th race
    3-Latruska, getting weight from top 2, Fastest last race number and Ortiz Jr. Play with the 2,5,6

    Let’s go get the bad guys, Vin

  6. I realized I had forgotten Asmussen as soon as I posted my comment.

    The point I was making in my previous comment is that Mr. Pricci has never, repeat never, mentioned that the ‘bombs’ saddled by his favorite trainers might have been enhance by . . . . . . . . . . Simply can’t give credit when credit is due to a trainer who’s stock is claimers.

    1. And I was incorrect naming Curlin as Super Stock’s father. Super Stock’s parents are Dialed In and Super Girlie. The Derby is wide open, IMO, and a bomb can win it just like Mine That Bird and Giacomo did. Mine That Bird was vanned to Churchill from New Mexico so definitely not blue blood transportation. Calvin “Bo Rail” did the rest.

  7. Think being vanned from New Mexico is not blue blood respect for Mine That Bird check out Canonero II’s journey to ‘America’s Race”.

    1. Yes, I heard there is a movie about him. Apparently he arrived in KY looking terrible but the week leading up to the race he improved dramatically. He would have been a huge bomb but he was in the “field” and came back at 7-1, a tremendous underlay. This is according to Steve Haskin at I think I saw the race on a TV screen in a crowded OTB in NYC. My biggest score ever was a mistake at OTB . I filled in the computer slip incorrectly and with three minutes to post tried to cancel. The teller said it couldn’t be cancelled so I kept the bet. In a three horse photo my wrong horse won followed by the others that I used. Had to go to corporate office to cash. There’s an old saying in horse racing: Never cancel.

      1. Indeed, better off “eating” a mistake instead of making a change. Got nailed once trying to refund a big bunch of Dime Supers, input incorrectly for $1. It was an expensive lesson as the bet lost…

  8. Well, I guess the ride of the year is locked up for 2021. Not sure Irad is even human at this point.

    Very nice call in the writeup, calling the upset. Well done.

    1. Thanks Doc, Earlier comment made was lost. I’ve seen the greats; Bailey, Cordero, Pincay, Shoemaker, etc., etc. but I’ve never seen dominance like this for a sustained period. Remarkable ride yesterday

    1. Thanks T. It was just one of several great races–and results–for us yesterday. Not often one goes 4-for-5 on straight win bets at three separate venues…

  9. Nice going,John ! It was nice to hear players talking about weight and ground loss in a handicap race.Wonder if the 2nd place horse got the best number.

    1. 2nd place horse is Monomoy Girl. After all she’s accomplished she deserves to be referred to by name, ha, ha. Not sure why she is even on the track after being sold. Why risk it? At 14-3 hasn’t she “done” enough? Horses today are rushed from racing to make babies and MG is an outlier in that she is running after being sold. Please help me understand, JP. Thanks

  10. Wow harsh news for Rispoli, with Sadler taking him off Rock You World cause Joel Rosario came available. I get it – that’s how the business works, but I don’t know; this one isn’t sitting right for me. This is Umberto fucking Rispoli, not some run of the mill jockey. And you’re a SoCal trainer & Rispoli just won the SA Derby for you.

    I do get it – there are 2 jockeys out there that if they become available, you’re going to be super tempted to toss whoever is on your horse and make a switch, but this one just doesn’t feel right.

    Maybe I’m getting soft and naive in my middle age. If it was just about any other SoCal jockey, I’d find it easier to understand.

    1. Agree 1000% Doc, then I’m a huge Joel fan and based on past association, success and availability, guess I would have to make the switch too. Then again, my name ends in a vowel, so maybe not. Sadler did sound very defensive in his reasoning, didn’t he.

      I’m a big Rispoli fan, too, especially on turf, but then this is the biggest spot there is and, as you say, if one of two jockeys are available, you get him for your owner…

  11. I know John has corrected me on this but I remember Angel Cordero replacing Abigail Fuller on the great filly, Mom’s Command. Here’s the kicker: Mom’s Command was owned by Abby’s father, Peter Fuller. Mom went on to win NY Filly Triple Crown (Mother Goose, Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks) in 1985. She also won the Alabama at Saratoga that year. Ruffian won The Triple Tiara in 1975. Then they had that stupid match race w/Foolish Pleasure and we all know how that worked out. Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean KIng I get. Not RUFFIAN! Buried in the infield at Belmont. A legend.

      1. Sarcasm warranted.

        Had an occasion to reference the Ruffian Stakes with a friend on the phone yesterday re Belmont and said “never mind, one more stakes moved from Belmont to Saratoga.”

        It’s like the rider switch to Rosario. Saratoga sells, the strongest brand in American racing. Then Belmont isn’t Charles Town either.

        (I kid Charles Town because they’re like mostly a casino now, right, except for one day a year?)

        1. I’m trying to stay composed and all, but I know one thing – as perfectly as I might handle it this summer, when the JCGC day comes, I’m going to be one miserable fool to be around.

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