Lady Apple to follow Midnight Bisou's Eclipse-winning path

January 27, 2020 09:24am
Lady Apple to follow Midnight Bisou's Eclipse-winning path
Photo: Coady Photography

Last season, Steve Asmussen transformed Midnight Bisou from a graded stakes-winning filly who had run third in the prior year’s Kentucky Oaks to a division stalwart recently named Champion Older Dirt Female.

Next, the trainer plans to provide Lady Apple all the same opportunities as Midnight Bisou given they both prevailed when making 4-year-old debuts in the Houston Ladies Classic (G3).

“With Curlin in the pedigree, we expected her to be even better as a 4-year-old,” Asmussen said of the filly, who’s campaigned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds and breeder KatieRich Stables.

Lady Apple stalked while saving ground in Sunday’s Sam Houston feature, then took advantage of an open rail at the top of the stretch, slipping inside of pace-setting Serengeti Empress to challenge for the lead.

With an eighth of a mile to go, they were four across the track in the Houston Ladies Classic, which sent postward a compact but talented field of six. Outside of Lady Apple and Serengeti Empress, graded winners Mylady Curlin and Street Band also dueled.

Just 3/4 of a length separated them at the wire, with Lady Apple prevailing under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.

"She was really comfortable and traveling very well,” Santana Jr. said. “When we turned for home, I asked her, and she responded. I feel confident with Lady Apple. I knew she would give me everything she had.”

Lady Apple made the Houston Ladies Classic her sixth win in 12 starts, with other stakes scores last season in the Fantasy Stakes (G3), Iowa Oaks (G3) and Remington Park Oaks (G3). A late developer, she competed in multiple stages at age 2 while still a maiden, then came around after a layoff to open her sophomore season with three straight victories. Lady Apple qualified for and ran third in the Kentucky Oaks.

Next, Asmussen said, “We will try to follow a similar plan that we had we had last year with Midnight Bisou.”

After her own Houston Ladies Classic score, Midnight Bisou went first to Oaklawn Park, sweeping its Azeri Stakes (G2) and Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) before heading to New York for the summer.

If the two older fillies are to meet, it would likely be later in the year. Midnight Bisou is expected to contend Feb. 29 in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup and from there could go on to the $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 28, after which she figures to freshen up before completing her final season on the racetrack.

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