déjà vu for Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Close Hatches as she used the same
front-running style as she had four weeks ago in the Azeri Stakes (G2)
win Friday’s $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) on the penultimate
race card of the 2014 Oaklawn race meet.
Photo: Coady Photography
regular rider Joel Rosario in the irons, Close Hatches used her rail
post to her advantage and proceeded to control the pace through early
fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 3/5 for the first half
mile. Defending champion On Fire Baby, who had tracked from second
throughout, held that position at the wire, 1 ¼ lengths behind the
winner and one length in front of third-place finisher Stanwyck. The
winner completed the 1 1/16-mile race for older fillies
and mares in 1:42 3/5 over a fast track.
classy,” said Rosario. “I was always confident. She’s the kind of horse
that’s always honest. She tries hard every time. I was just concerned
with making sure she didn’t go too fast, so she’d
have something left at the end and she did. She’s a great horse.”
Close Hatches, a
4-year-old First Defense filly, is undefeated in her two starts this
year and has now won seven of 10 lifetime starts. The $360,000 winner’s
share increased her bankroll to $1,847,300.
very special,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who was winning his
fourth Apple Blossom and first since 1998 when champion Escena won. “I
told Joel to go right to the lead and take
away anything that was coming easy. She broke well and she’s such a
professional. She stands up in the gate so well and doesn’t move a
muscle and waits for the flag to open. Consequently, she gets into
position and takes it from there.”
The 3-5 favorite returned $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
earlier, Zayat Stable’s Brewing also earned his second straight Oaklawn
stakes victory in the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters
after having won the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes
on March 22.
from post 11 under jockey Jon Court, the Maimonides colt gained the
lead after a half mile in :44 2/5 and was able to maintain the lead by a
half-length at wire. He completed the six furlong
race in 1:10. Mister Pollard and Da Winner Is, the two longest shots on
the board at 95-1 and 69-1, respectively, finished in a dead heat for
second. Pimpernel, the favorite, finished ninth. Northern Merit
Brewing returned $7.60, $5.80 and $4.20 as the 5-2 second choice.