Photo: Coady Photography
With a 2 ¼-length triumph at Oaklawn on Friday, Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty left little doubt she’s ready to join the ranks of the dominant older females that have used the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn as a springboard to huge campaigns. Her trainer, Bob Baffert, won his fifth straight Graded stakes in Arkansas this year as the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner got her 2012 campaign off to a perfect start.
Made the 1-2 favorite by 22,629 in attendance, the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro showed a little rust at the break in what was her first start in five months, but jockey Rafael Bejarano actually took advantage of the sluggish beginning to rate off a pace set by frontrunner Twelve Twenty Two.
That one led the field of five through early opening fractions of 23.89 for the quarter and 47.54 for the half, while Plum Pretty, Absinthe Minded, Tiz Miz Sue, and Holy Heavens followed. Plum Pretty continued to pressure the leader up the backstretch and moved to a duel heading into the far turn after three-quarters in 1:11.73. She gained the advantage soon after the far turn and continued to draw away under a consistent hand ride to earn the victory in a final time of 1:42.64 for the 1 1/16 miles. Absinthe Minded got up for second and Tiz Miz Sue was third. Holy Heavens and Twelve Twenty Two completed the order of finish.
“We had some anxious moments at the start but once he got her into gear she just dragged him around there,” Baffert said via phone from his home base in California. “She’s always been sort of a big filly but her frame is filling out and it was great to get her back and get a win in there. I don’t know (where her next start will be); she comes home Sunday and as soon as she tips me off that she’s ready to run again, we’ll find a spot for her.”
“She felt really, really good,” Bejarano said. “I missed the first jump a little bit. She kind of came away from there on the wrong foot, but I think about it and it was the best thing that happened. If she had fired out of there, she might have gone up there head and head with that other filly. I saw the other filly get sent and that was good for me. She was great relaxing and after a half-mile I felt in total control. She was ready to go when I asked her.”
Plum Pretty paid $3, $2.80, and $2.10, Absinthe Minded brought $3.80 and $2.20 to place, and Tiz Miz Sue returned $2.10 to show.
One race earlier, Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Glinda the Good took the $100,000 Instant Racing Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, drawing off to a clear three-length victory for trainer Steve Asmussen under jockey Corey Nakatani.
“I’m very happy that even though she’s been facing some of the top horses of her generation, she’s still moving forward,” Asmussen said. “Today was the most responsive. When he gathered her up, she accelerated nicely. I think we can try her in graded company now that we have two listed victories. She’s a very nice homebred. She may be a lot fun this summer.”
Well-reserved at the back of the pack of nine other contenders, the Hard Spun filly rated seventh while Scat Baby towed a trio of frontrunners through early fractions of 23.49 and 47.09. Nakatani asked Glinda the Good to make her move along the backstretch and she progressed into fifth as the field went three-quarters in 1:13.02. On the far turn the filly ranged up and reached the front five wide between rivals, then pulled away while being kept to the task through seven-eighths in 1:26.64. Final time for the mile was 1:39.44.
"She got in a little going around the first turn, but coming down stretch, I had so much horse,” Nakatani said. “When I asked her, she opened up and was impressive. She has a bright future ahead of her.”
Glinda the Good came off a runner-up finish in the March 25 Sunland Park Oaks to claim the victory. She now has a record of 3-2-1 from eight career starts with earnings of $191,820. Sent off at odds of 8-5, she returned $5.40, $4, and $3.60. Amazing Shoes brought $9.60 and $7 to show, and Keewatin Ice paid $15.40. Yvette Sagalo, Run Wild, Morrow Cove, Zapper Belle, Scat Baby, and Soonerette completed the order of finish.