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Apr 13, 2012

Five ladies to start in Apple Blossom


Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - A small but evenly matched field of five older fillies and mares have been entered for Friday's $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, last year's race winner, is being kept out of the 1 1/16-mile stakes.

Making her first start of 2012 will be Plum Pretty, one of the top three-year- olds from last year. Trained by Bob Baffert, the filly will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from post five.

Plum Pretty, owned by Peachtree Stable, earned more than $1.33 million last year in nine starts, with victories in the Sunland Park and Kentucky Oaks along with a win in the Cotillion Stakes. With Martin Garcia in the saddle, the filly finished second in the Hollywood and Coaching Club American Oaks, and was fourth in the Alabama to champion filly Royal Delta.

After setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic in November, Plum Pretty and Bejarano faded to fifth behind Royal Delta.

Breaking from the rail will be locally based Tiz Miz Sue. The five-year-old will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. for trainer Steve Hobby and owner Carol Ricks.

Tiz Miz Sue is coming off a win in Oaklawn's Azeri Stakes four weeks ago. In her two previous 2012 starts she was second twice to Absinthe Minded, initially in the Pippin and later in February's Bayakoa.

The mare has earned $414,709 with six wins in 23 career starts.

Absinthe Minded had her two race win streak snapped in the Azeri. The five- year-old mare will be ridden on Friday by Terry Thompson from the three hole.

Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Absinthe Minded was third to Havre de Grace in last year's Apple Blossom. The mare, owned by Briland Farm, has won six of 29 career starts for $408,661.

Completing the field for the Apple Blossom are Holy Heavens who will be ridden by Ramon Vazquez from post two and Twelve Twenty Two who has Calvin Borel riding from post four.

Post-time for the Apple Blossom is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. (ET).

Owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones are keeping Havre de Grace out of the race because of their displeasure with the weight assignments. The champion mare was assigned 123 pounds compared to 117 for Plum Pretty, 115 to Tiz Miz Sue and Absinthe Minded getting 114.

"We were flabbergasted at the weights," Porter said. "Plum Pretty was the most unexpected but a lot of them were very unfair. Tiz Miz Sue was getting 8 pounds after just running over a hundred Beyer and winning the graded Azeri Stakes. Absinthe Minded was getting 9."

The two-time Eclipse Award winner will instead race on May 4 in the La Troienne at Churchill Downs.

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