This preview starts in the past on March 14th, 2020. It was a simpler time. Some things were still open. No one was wearing masks. Sean Payton was carefree and psyched to take in a horse race.
While Sean Payton was hob knobbing in the casino and passing chips and dice around without a latex glove or Purell bottle in sight he was probably excited for the Rebel Stakes. However, many people (probably only Mark Kapitan and myself) were more excited for the 2020 Azeri.
This year’s Azeri was stacked with talent and interesting pace scenarios. Mark, who had flown into the teeth of a global pandemic to see these races in person, was nice and settled and ready to be entertained on the estate sale couch in my home that someone may or may not have actually died on or around because Oaklawn had announced no spectators while his flight was in the air.
Instead, like most of Mark’s trip, he was not entertained. Serengeti Empress took the field gate to wire over a sloppy track with ease with absolutely no pace pressure.
I tell this story for two reasons. One, to petition congress for Mark’s Degenerate Gambler Medal of Honor. And two, set up the theme of this year’s Apple Blossom. If we don’t want a repeat of the Azeri someone is going to have to jump on the proverbial grenade to press Serengeti Empress.
The field is mostly the same with the addition of some more early speed. One of these new early speed horses has to be the horse to go with Serengeti, and everyone knows it. It makes this year’s edition of the Apple Blossom possibly one of the best betting races of the year.
Here are the new faces more than likely to fling themselves at the Serengeti Empress ordinance for the sake of the field. Well…Probably not the field….but god bless whoever it is because it helps my betting interests.
#1 Ollie’s Candy: California invader that has flashed some early speed but more than likely will want to try to rate a bit. The rail post draw might embolden Sadler to instruct Rosario to send, but we know that’s not Rosario’s type of race.
#4 Come Dancing: Come Dancing is a likely horse to try to get out and run with SE. The problem is I don’t think she keeps up. Jumps at grenade. Belly flops just short.
#10 Cookie Dough: Now this is what I’m talking about, damnit! Cookie Dough is going to try to go early. A one dimensional runner for the most prominent man bun in Southern Florida, Saffie Joseph jr., Cookie Dough has the speed figures that leads you to believe that she will be capable of sustaining pace pressure.
One of these sacrificial speed duelers is hopefully going to heat up for my two real contenders.
#13 Lady Apple: Lady Apple loves Oaklawn, however she does not love wet tracks, so I’ll need a fast track on Saturday for the Oaklawn Specialist with the reignited Steven Asmussen/Ricardo Santana Jr. combo. Lady Apple really had no chance last time, but my projected Chernobyl grade pace meltdown and a drier track makes her a real threat.#
#6 Street Band: I love Street Band as the deeper closer of the two horses. Sophie Doyle has a connection with this mare and she’ll measure a potential (probable) pace duel well. Street Band’s chances are 100% dependent on a contested pace developing and a track that plays fair to closers. If those two conditions are met Sophie and Street Band are a real threat.
My plays for this race:
Win: #13 Lady Apple and #6 Street Band with odds dictating wager size.