Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty got her 4-year-old season started in a powerful way Friday at Oaklawn Park, when she shuttled to a 2 1/4- length win over Absinthe Minded in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap.
Horse of the Year Havre de Grace will not run in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 13, owner Rick Porter said shortly after the weights for the race were released on Saturday.
Absinthe Minded, a two-time stakes winner at the meet who finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri last Saturday, will advance to next month's Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
Secret Circle handled the latest distance test in his escalating career Saturday at Oaklawn Park, when he beat a fast-closing Optimizer by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 2, $500,000 Rebel Stakes.
The Grade 3, $1 million race at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., will have a Grade 1 winner in the field for the first time Saturday after trainer Bob Baffert on Monday committed Drill, the Del Mar Futurity winner, to the 1 1/16-mile race.
Awesome Gem still has got it at 8. He rallied for a one-length win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on Monday, then withstood a claim of foul to nail down the fourth graded stakes win of a career that began in 2006.
For all Smiling Tiger accomplished last year at 3 -- knocking off older horses in the both the Bing Crosby and Ancient Title and running third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint -- there are reasons to believe he will be even better this season.