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Apple Blossom: 'Grace' withdrawn

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- 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.

Havre de Grace was highweighted at 123 pounds, with Porter concerned she would have to give six pounds to Plum Pretty, the winner of last year's Kentucky Oaks.

Porter said he would consider running Havre de Grace against males on April 14 in the Grade 2, $400,000 Oaklawn Handicap, a race in which she was weighted at 118 pounds along with Hymn Book and Ron the Greek. Mission Impazible was highweighted at 120. Porter said another option is the Grade 2, $300,000 La Troienne for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on May 4.

"We're not running in the Apple Blossom," Porter said Saturday. "When you take a horse like Plum Pretty, who won the Oaks, ran a minus Ragozin number galloping in the Cotillion at Philadelphia and we've got to spot her six pounds, you just can't give a horse of that quality six pounds."

The other weights for the Apple Blossom were Awesome Maria, second weighted at 122; It's Tricky, 119; Tiz Miz Sue, 115; Abinsthe Minded, 114; Twelve Twenty Two, 113; She's All In, 112; Holy Heavens, 111; and Soaring Goddess, 110.

The news of Havre de Grace's defection could lure It's Tricky into the Apple Blossom. Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of It's Tricky, said his filly would have to leave Sunday morning on a flight to Lexington and then van to Hot Springs in order to run in the race.

"We're looking at it because Havre de Grace is not running," McLaughlin said. "We're trying to adjust travel arrangements and I need to talk to Simon Crisford."

Crisford is the racing manager for Godolphin Racing, which owns It's Tricky.

McLaughlin's other option for It's Tricky is Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff, a seven-furlong race at Aqueduct.

On Saturday morning Havre de Grace breezed five furlongs at Oaklawn in an easy 1:02.20 undr jockey Jenna Joubert.

Oaklawn head clocker Jim Hamilton carried her through fractions of 12.40 seconds for the opening eighth of a mile, 37.60 for three furlongs, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.40. Hamilton had the final quarter of Havre de Grace's work in 24.40 seconds.

The Apple Blossom would have been the second start of the year for Havre de Grace, who won the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds on March 17.

-- additional reporting by David Grening