Monomoy Girl training at Oaklawn Park for the G1 Apple Blossom showdown against Swiss Skydiver
After last week’s showdown of top sprinters C Z Rocket and Whitmore, Oaklawn Park will once again be the nation’s focus for a much-anticipated battle between Eclipse Award-winning females Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.
Monomoy Girl, owned by MyRacehorse, Spendthrift Farm and Madaket Stables, and trained by Brad Cox, is a two-time Eclipse Award winner, who captured the Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2018 and in 2020. Swiss Skydiver, owned by Peter Callahan and trained by Kenny McPeek, was voted champion 3-year-old filly last year. Swiss Skydiver won the 2020 Grade 1 Preakness Stakes over Grade 1 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve winner and future Horse of Year Authentic. Swiss Skydiver finished seventh to Monomoy Girl in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The Grade 1, $1 million Oaklawn Handicap for older horses at 1 1/8 miles will be run two races earlier on the Oaklawn program.
TVG will be broadcasting every race, every day with expanded coverage of Keeneland’s Spring Meet, which runs through April 23. In addition to racing from Keeneland, Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, TVG will feature racing from Oaklawn Park, Aqueduct and more. Fans can tune in on TVG, TVG2 and the Watch TVG app, which is available on Amazon Fire, Roku and connected Apple TV devices.
“America’s Day at the Races” will also be live on Saturday on FS2 from 5-8 p.m. ET featuring the Apple Blossom and the Oaklawn Handicap. On Sunday, “America’s Day at the Races” will air from 1-2:30 p.m. ET on FS2, 2:30-5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, and from 5:30-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2.
Friday, April 16
5:30 p.m. ―$100,000 Grade 3 Baird Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Madaket Stables and Heider Family Stables’ 4-year-old filly Speech returns to Keeneland, the site of her greatest career triumph, in Friday’s Grade 3 Baird Doubledogdare Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Speech is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the seven-horse field. Last July, the bay filly captured Keeneland’s Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes by three lengths. W.S. Farish’s Royal Flag, the 5-2 second choice trained by Chad Brown, is making her first start since capturing the Grade 3 Turn Back the Alarm Handicap at Aqueduct last November. Juddmonte Farms’ Bonny South, second in both last year’s Grade 1 Alabama Stakes and the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, should also figure in the picture for trainer Brad Cox.
Saturday, April 17
5:30 p.m. ―$200,000 Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Trinity Farm’s homebred 7-year-old gelding Red Knight, winner of last fall’s Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland, drew the outside post position in a field of 10 runners for Saturday’s Grade 2 $200,000 Elkhorn Stakes going 1½ miles on the grass. Listed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite, Red Knight, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by James Graham, finished second in the 2019 edition of the Elkhorn. Joseph Allen’s North Dakota, fourth to Red Knight in last year’s Sycamore, will be making his first start since finishing 10th in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in January for trainer Shug McGaughey. Three Diamonds Farm’s Tide of the Sea, trained by Mike Maker, won a 1 ½-mile allowance race at Keeneland last October, and captured the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 23, also at 1 ½ miles.
5:49 p.m.― $1 million Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park on TVG and FS2
A wide-open renewal of Saturday’s Grade 2 $1 million Oaklawn Handicap at 1 1/8 miles could be the right spots for shippers from California and Florida among the 10 horses entered. CRK Stable’s 4-year-old Express Train, trained by John Shirreffs, is in from the West Coast following a second-place finish in the Grade 1 1 ¼-mile Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, and a 3 ¼-length victory in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes prior to that. The Todd Pletcher- trained lightly raced 5-year-old gelding Fearless won the Grade 2 WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes last out on Feb. 27 for his fourth win in seven starts. Rupp Racing’s Owendale was second by a head in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic Stakes at the Fair Grounds on March 20, and was third in Oaklawn’s Grade 3 Razorback Handicap on Feb. 27. Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s 4-year-old Silver State is two for two at Oaklawn this year, including a neck victory over Danny Caldwell’s Rated R Superstar in the 1 1/16-mile Essex Stakes on March 13.
7:09 p.m. ―$1 million Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on TVG and FS2
A clash of female titans will be on display this Saturday at Oaklawn as 2020 Eclipse Awards winners Monomoy Girl, trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, and Swiss Skydiver, trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Robby Albarado, square off in the Grade 1 $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap, leading a six-horse field of fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. The 6-year-old even-money morning line favorite Monomoy Girl, owned by MyRacehorse, Spendthrift Farm and Madaket Stables, is 14 of 16. The daughter of Tapizar was the champion 3-year-old filly in 2018 and the champion older dirt female of 2020. Monomoy Girl opened 2021 with a two-length win in Oaklawn’s Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes on Feb. 28. Peter Callahan’s 4-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver also won her 2021 debut, capturing the Grade 1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita by 2 ¾ lengths on March 13. A bay daughter of Daredevil, Swiss Skydiver, 2-1 on the morning line, won the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, the highlight of a season in which she raced at nine different tracks and earned the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award. Not to be overlooked is St. George Stable’s 5-year-old Letruska,12 of 17, who was second last time out in Oaklawn’s Grade 2 Azeri Stakes.
7:51 p.m. ―$200,000 Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
The 4-year-old Independence Hall, third in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational and fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap, is the 8-5 morning line favorite against four rivals in Saturday’s Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita Park for trainer Michael McCarthy. Brazilian-bred Royal Ship, trained by Richard Mandella, is seeking his first win in the U.S after winning five straight in his home country in 2019. The bay 5-year-old gelding returns to the main track following a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on March 6. Magic On Tap, a 5-year-old son of Tapit, trained by Bob Baffert, steps into stakes company for the first time following an impressive 1 1/16-mile allowance win in over the track on March 28.
Sunday, April 18
5 p.m. ―$100,000 Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Last September, MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm’s Tizamagician finished second in the Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita Park. The 4-year-old son of Tiznow returns for Sunday’s demanding 1 ½-mile Grade 3 test in a five-horse field. Trained by Richard Mandella, Tizamagician, comes into the race off a fifth-place finish in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 and a second in the Grade 2 San Pasqual on Jan. 30. The 6-year-old gelding Zestful, trained by Mark Glatt, finished fourth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual. In November of 2019, Zestful finished second by three-quarters of a length in the listed 1 ¾-mile Marathon Stakes at Santa Anita.
7:53 p.m. ―$100,000 Grade 3 Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
The 4-year-old Brickyard Ride, owned Alfred Pais and trained by Craig Lewis, leads the Grade 3 $100,000 Kona Gold Stakes Sunday at Santa Anita. A California-bred son of Clubhouse Ride, Brickyard Ride has won four of his last five starts, including a four-length win in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on March 6 at Santa Anita. The Bob Baffert-trained 6-year-old gelding Ax Man, won the listed Santana Mile by 4 ½ lengths in his last start on March 28.
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