• The week’s top Beyer speed figure in North America
98 Ce Ce / Ollie’s Candy
Oaklawn Park (April 18): Apple Blossom Hcap G1 $600,000, 1m½f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m
Trainer: Michael McCarthy / John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza / Joel Rosario
Owner: Bo Hirsch / Paul & Karen Eggert
Pedigree: 4yo ch f Elusive Quality – Miss Houdini (Belong To Me) / 5yo b/br m Candy Ride – Afternoon Stroll (Stroll)
Although nobody hit the magic three-digit Beyer mark on a truncated US programme, the most prestigious race of the weekend produced a thrilling contest at Oaklawn Park.
Only a head separated west-coast Ce Ce and Ollie’s Candy at the end of the Apple Blossom, and understandably the pair aren’t split apart on the Beyer scale, where they both get a 98.
GIven the lack of opportunities elsewhere owing to coronavirus, the Apple Blossom looked red-hot, featuring a full field of 14 and described as being “like a Breeders’ Cup in April” by Tom Amoss, trainer of the favourite Serengeti Empress. Unable to dominate in customary fashion, last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner faded tamely in the stretch.
Ollie’s Candy, though, emerges with huge credit for outgunning several pace rivals and then hanging on gamely, only to succumb to Ce Ce’s late challenge at the wire.
The Breeders’ Cup Distaff is now the long-term target for a lightly raced winner, who has run only six times in her life and is now unbeaten in three this term including a pair of G1s.
Ce Ce’s primary summer target, though, is Del Mar’s Clement Hirsch, a G1 named in honour of owner-breeder Bo Hirsch’s late father.
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