2023 Apple Blossom Handicap & Count Fleet Sprint Odds

Taking place this Saturday, Oaklawn Park has one of its best cards of the year which is headlined by the G1 2023 Apple Blossom Handicap

A race for fillies and mares over a mile and a sixteenth, the race is worth a cool $1,000,000 which makes it even more surprising that only four runners have been declared for this year’s contest.

Despite a lack of numbers, the race is certainly packed with class, with two of the best fillies in America, Secret Oath and Clairiere looking to resume rivalries.

Supporting the Apple Blossom is the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap which will see a field of ten head down to post, favorite for the race looks set to be the Chris Hartman trained Tejano Twist.

A winner of three of his last four races, his win last time out in the Grade 3 Whitmore Stakes was as visually impressive as it gets. Clearly thriving, there could be bigger and better things to come from this four-year-old who should take all of the beating here.

2023 Apple Blossom Handicap

Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile, Dirt, open to fillies and mares aged four and over. Total prize pool: $1,000,000

Only a field of four will head down to post for this year’s Apple Blossom Stakes, with many believing this will be a shoot out between two of the best fillies currently in training, Secret Oath and Clairiere.

The two will be resuming rivalries following their last meeting in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes which was won by Secret Oath.

That was the last time we saw the D. Wayne Lukas trained runner out on the track and he will be hoping that his charge’s four-year-old season will be as successful as her three-year-old campaign.

The winner of the 2022 Kentucky Oaks, and her first three starts, she found life tricky as the 2022 season went on, going without a win in her next five starts. Thankfully for connections that winless run was put to a stop when easily successful in the Azeri. There will be a severe hope that her win last time out can act as a significant springboard to even more success this season.

She should start as the favorite here.

Clairiere will be hoping to turn the tables on her rival following a defeat last time out in the Azeri. A messy affair, she left herself with far too much to do, but did a lot of her best work late on. This small field should suit her and don’t be alarmed if jockey Joel Rosario is comfortable leaving her positioned towards the back of the field during the early proceedings.

Connections of Clairiere will be confident she can turn the tables on the Kentucky Oaks winner and will point to the fact that she finished above her in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Hoping to prove that her positive showing in the Distaff wasn’t a fluke, this 2023 Apple Blossom looks set to be a cracker.

Rounding out the four-runner field is the Norm Casse trained Hot And Sultry and the Burl McBride trained I Feel The Need.

Hot and Sultry will start the race as the third favorite and certainly isn’t a forlorn hope. A classy horse in her own right, she is a winner at Stakes level and led for much of the Azeri before being overcome by the eventual class of both Clairiere and Secret Oath. The likely front runner of the race, she has an outside chance if the rest of the runners offer her a soft time of things out in front.

I Feel The Need will start the race as the outsider of the four-runner field. She will head into the race winless in her last five starts and if she were to poke her head in front here it would be one of the biggest shocks of the year.

2023 Apple Blossom Handicap Odds & Free Betting Pick

There is absolutely no doubt that this is a race that Clairiere can win but Secret Oath looks the horse to be on. Her win in the Azeri was won with her going away from the field and she just looks to have too much speed and class here.

Secret OathTyler GaffalioneD Wayne Lukas-180
Hot and SultryDavid CabreraNorm Casse+500
I Feel The NeedChel BaileyBurl McBride+2000
ClairiereJoel RosarioSteve Asmussen+120

Count Fleet Sprint Handicap

Grade 3, six furlongs, Dirt, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $500,000

A competitive looking renewal of the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap awaits, with ten horses set to head down to post for this year’s race.

Chris Hartman boasts a fine record at Oaklawn with the trainer having an impressive 30% strike rate with his runners at the course. He will be looking to maintain that record with Tejano Twist.

A winner of three of his last four starts, Tejano Twist couldn’t have been more impressive when winning the Grade 3 Whitmore Stakes in impressive fashion. Happy to sit off the lead, he burned down the home straight, passing his rivals with ease and looked to be a horse that was going places. He could take all the beating here.

Two horses will be looking to renew their rivalries with Tejano Twist and will be hopeful of overturning the tables. Edge to Edge is Tejano Twist’s stable mate and ran a great race in the Whitemore. Prominent throughout, the race looked like it could be his until Tejano Twist swept through late to win. Finishing a respectable third that day, there could be more to come in this Saturday’s race.

Cogburn found the early going tough in the Whitemore and didn’t run his best race. Only able to finish eighth, his connections will be hoping for an upturn in form this time around.

Surveillance will head into Saturday’s race in great heart following three wins in his last four starts, including a win in the Thanksgiving Stakes last year. An able performer around this level could be a decent value option.

Two other horses will be looking to build on some positive performances last time out. Strobe for Brad Cox will be looking for his first graded victory following two consecutive wins in lower grades. Skelly for Steve Asmussen is another looking to take a huge leap forward and will be competing in his first graded race. Both represent top barns and could be real players in this race.

A special mention should also be given to Radical Right. Despite not winning recently, he has recorded placed efforts in his last two Grade 3 starts and is certainly more than capable of winning a race of this nature.

Count Fleet Sprint Handicap Odds & Free Betting Tip

A great race awaits in this year’s Count Fleet. Whilst you could make a compelling case for most of the ten-runner field, Tejano Twist’s impressive victory in the Whitemore marks him out to be the horse to beat. Under better tactics both Edge to Edge and Candy Man Rocket look to have live chances and could be a real threat.

Edge To EdgeMitchell MurrillChris Hartman +1000
SkellyRicardo Santana JrSteve Asmussen +400
Pirate RickGabriel SaezNorman Cash +2000
Candy Man RocketJunior AlvaradoBill Mott +600
Tejano TwistFrancisco ArrietaChris Hartman +250
Radical RightCristian TorresPeter Miller +1500
SurveillanceJames GrahamKeith Desormeaux +600
CogburnJoel RosarioSteve Asmussen +1500
PayneKeith AsmussenSteve Asmussen +2000
StrobeFlorent GerouxBrad Cox +350

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