Weekend Watch: Apple Blossom matches up Grade 1 stars

Weekend Watch: Apple Blossom matches up Grade 1 stars
Photo: Ted McClenning/Eclipse Sportswire

Each weekend, Horse Racing Nation previews the top races to tune into coast to coast and runs down the main contenders. All times are Eastern.


Oaklawn, Race 4: 3:18 p.m.

It will be a battle of the locals in the Grade 3
Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. Odds-on favorite Mitole has reeled off four straight wins and has never been worse than second at Oaklawn. Even-money second choice
Whitmore has the class, however. In his most recent two starts, the Grade 1 winner finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and won the Hot Springs Stakes to kick off 2019. As with Mitole, he has also never been off the board in Hot Springs.

Keeneland, Race 7: 4:24 p.m.

Veterans of last year’s Kentucky Derby, 
Flameaway and
Solominiwill meet once again in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes. Flameaway is the 3-1 morning line favorite off a determined effort in the Challenger Stakes down at Tampa Bay. Solomini is the surprising second choice off a confidence-building allowance win in California.

Aqueduct, Race 8: 5:21 p.m.

Last year’s Gazelle (G2) winner
My Miss Lily continues her comeback in the Top Flight Invitational. The Tapit filly was given an extended break after finishing third in the Mother Goose (G2) in June and returned at Gulfstream in February when she ran third in an optional claimer. Stretching back out to nine furlongs, she's the third choice on the morning line, which I consider to be a bit of an overlay.

Keeneland, Race 9: 5:34 p.m.

Those searching for some last minute, easy Kentucky Derby points will go to post in the Grade 3
Lexington Stakes. The field is headed by El Camino Real Derby winner Anothertwistafatewho is undefeated on all weather but has yet to record a victory on dirt -- though he did run second by a neck in the Sunland Derby (G3). Holy Bull (G2) winner Harvey Wallbanger is looking for some redemption after finishing eighth in the Florida Derby (G1), while Sueno enters off three straight graded stakes placings.

Keeneland, Race 10: 6:12 p.m.

Rushing Fall
returns to the starting gate in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes, her first start since a bold, front-running score in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) in October. Now 4 years old, the More Than Ready filly has just seven career starts, but she has made them count, going 7: 6-1-0 with five of those wins in graded company. If she runs her race, the Jenny Wiley is hers to lose, and she hasn't been defeated yet at Keeneland.

Oaklawn, Race 9: 6:22 p.m.

Despite still searching for his first 2019 victory,
Giant Expectations has been named the tepid 3-1 favorite in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. A trio of veterans from last year’s Triple Crown trial will be there, as will local runner Rated R Superstar, the upset winner of the Essex Handicap.

Oaklawn, Race 11: 7:43 p.m.

Both Rebel (G2) winners
Omaha Beach and Long Range Toddy will face off in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, while Improbable tries to get back on track. For an in depth look at the field, check out Head to Head handicapping.


Oaklawn, Race 6: 4:46 p.m.

Last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) winner
Noble Indy will be looking for his first placing in more than a year when he goes to post in Oaklawn's Fifth Season Stakes. Snapper Sinclair, who was a nose away from winning last year's Risen Star (G2), will try to turn an Essex runner-up placing into a win here. Familiar face Hawaakom drew the rail and will be looking for his first victory since winning last year’s Razorback Handicap (G3) in the slop.

Aqueduct, Race 8: 5:15 p.m.

The inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint produced three starters for the
Mizdirection Stakes. The runner-up from that race, Wesley Ward’s Chelsea Cloisterswill likely be one of the top choices, but her stablemates Mae Never No and Moonlight Romance are worth keeping an eye on as well. Chad Brown will send out Golconda to face the Ward trio.

Oaklawn, Race 8: 5:42 p.m.

It’s a battle of the Grade 1 winners in the 
Apple Blossom Handicap as Azeri (G2) winner and runner-up, Midnight Bisou and Elate respectively, meet again. Joining the fray are Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Chocolate Martini. A win by Midnight Bisou here keeps her perfect for the year and squarely at the top of the division.

Santa Anita, Race 6: 6:30 p.m.

Beach View
tops the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes field. The son of Giant’s Causeway has never hit the board on the main track at Santa Anita but gets a drop in class in this field and likes the 1 1/2-mile distance. Trainer John Sadler has two in here, including Campaign, a recent private purchase who's wheeling back from a fourth in last weekend's Santa Anita Handicap (G1).

Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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