Apple Blossom Handicap 2019 picks: A case for Escape Clause

April 13, 2019 02:04pm
Apple Blossom Handicap 2019 picks: A case for Escape Clause
Photo: Benoit

Sunday's Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) features a rematch between Azeri Stakes (G2) 1-2 finishers Midnight Bisou and Elate. The two favorites look strong again, but overachieving win machine Escape Clause could give them a scare as the possible controlling speed.

Before choosing how to bet Sunday’s eighth race at Oaklawn Park, let's analyze the field:


The Favorites


#1 Elate (6-5) was second as the even-money top choice in the Azeri Stakes, but that was her first start in more than six months. She should be fitter for Bill Mott and definitely wants more ground. The classy mare figures to stalk the pace from the rail. 


#6 Midnight Bisou (7-5) ran her record to 6-for-6 at a mile and a sixteenth with a solid off-the-pace score in the Azeri. She probably won’t get much pace to chase, but that was the case in both of her starts this year and she won anyway. An outside stalking trip is expected. 


Value Win Contenders


#3 Escape Clause (5-1) ran off the screen in a record-setting stakes run on March 24 at Sunland Park. The razor sharp 20-for-30 mare owns early-pressing versatility and looks like a solid threat at a hint of a price under Tyler Baze. She might be able to control the tempo in a race without much pace. 


Remaining Entrants


#2 Chocolate Martini (15-1) tuned up for this with an off-the-pace score against local optional claimers as the 3-2 favorite at this distance on Feb. 24, and the runner-up was a next-out winner. She has two bullets in her holster and will try to get involved late. She won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last year and ran third in the Summertime Oaks (G2) and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). 


#4 Viva Forever (30-1) is a 10-for-32 mare stepping up to face tougher after just missing in the $50,000 Lady Bird Stakes at seven panels on Feb. 18. She was nowhere in her last two graded attempts including a 12-length defeat in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3), a race won by Midnight Bisou. Class is a major concern.


#5 Wonder Gadot (6-1) is only 1-for-11 on fast dirt and lost as the strong favorite in her local optional claiming return March 8. The 4-year-old filly was a decent sort in the sophomore stakes ranks last year and must improve to threaten these.   


Wagering Strategies


#3 to win


Exacta 3/1-6


Exacta 1-6/3

 

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