APPLE BLOSSOM | PURSE: $600,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 1 | 1 1/16-MILES
Defeating four other older fillies and mares, Juddmonte Farms' Close Hatches secured her third Grade 1 with a front-running performance in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap April 11 at Oaklawn Park.
The 4-year-old First Defence filly was prepped for this spot by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott with a triumph in similar fashion in the March 15 Azeri Stakes.
She broke a step to the side from post 1 in the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom, but quickly recovered under jockey Joel Rosario. Traveling easily through early fractions of :23.47 seconds and :46.79 seconds while tracked by 2013 Apple Blossom winner On Fire Baby and Grade 3 winner Rose to Gold, the classy bay held her advantage while running three-quarters in 1:10.78.
Rosario kept his mount under measured urging as she kicked on for home through a mile in 1:36.30, using the whip judiciously to help Close Hatches hold sway by about a length over On Fire Baby in a final time of 1:42.75.
Sent off the 3-5 favorite in the field of five older fillies and mares, Close Hatches returned $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10. On Fire Baby paid $3.20 and $2.60, and late-closing Stanwyck brought $3. Let Faith Arise and Rose to Gold completed the order of finish.