2023 Apple Blossom Handicap & Count Fleet S. Handicap Recap

Oaklawn hosted one of its best racing days of the year this past Saturday with two fantastic races, the 2023 Apple Blossom Handicap and Grade 3 Count Fleet S. Handicap.

Despite attracting a field of just four, the 2023 Apple Blossom Handicap looked set to be a cracker with two of America’s best fillies, Secret Oath and Clairiere renewing rivalries in their bid to land a huge slice of the $1,000,000 prize pool. 

When these two great horses last met in the Azeri Stakes it was Secret Oath who ended up on top, but Clairiere was able to flip the script this time around. Looking down and out heading into the turn, she pulled off a remarkable comeback, burning down the homestretch to nab the longtime leader Secret Oath on the line.

If there was a small field in the Apple Blossom Handicap, the Count Fleet was one of the most competitive affairs of the day. With ten runners, the pace was always going to be on, and it was the front-running Skelly who was able to win following a superb front-running ride from Ricardo Santana Jr.

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

  1. Clairiere +120
  2. Secret Oath -180

Winning time: 1:43.46

There was just four runners in the 2023 Apple Blossom Handicap with many believing this would be a match between Secret Oath and Clairiere. With nothing to choose between the runners on paper, it was Secret Oath who was looking to build on her win in the Azeri Stakes

Hot and Sultry was always going to pick up the pace and made sure there was an even pace to aim at. Secret Oath and jockey Tyler Gaffalione were always content to play second fiddle and waited to make their move.

That move came as the field rounded out the home turn and they looked to burst clear of the rest of the field. 

Clairiere and Joel Rosario looked to find the early pace tough but with just over a furlong to run, found an extra gear. With three lengths to find on Secret Oath, she closed with each and every stride.

With the shadows of the post looming, she was able to draw alongside and poked her head in front to win by half a length. It was a huge victory for the Steve Asmussen-trained runner who looks set for a huge 2023. 

2Secret Oath $2.10 

Apple Blossom Race Video


Clairiere defeats #1 Secret Oath and takes the Apple Blossom #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

Count Fleet Sprint Handicap

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

  1. Skelly +400
  2. Strobe +333
  3. Tejano Twist +250

Winning time: 1:09.20

A hugely competitive affair awaited us in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap.

Tejano Twist was looking to win his second grade 3 race in quick succession following a dominant performance in the Grade 3 Whitemore.

In a race where position and early speed was always going to be key, it was Skelly who bounded out the gates.

Able to bag the rail, the rest of the field were content to let Skelly press on at the head of affairs, assuming he would come back to them. 

This was a major miscalculation, as the horse revealed out in front. 

With Ricardo Santana happy to set the fractions, he asked Skelly for more as he hit the home turn and the response was immediate. Catching his rivals unawares, they left the rest of the field trailing in the dust and would go onto win by two lengths. 

Others tried to reduce the gap, but it was a case of too little too late, as Strobe and Tejano Twist finished second and third. 

2Strobe $4.80$3.20
3Tejano Twist  $2.40

Count Fleet Sprint Handicap Race Video


Skelly wins the 2023 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

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