LAST year’s outstanding mare Letruska returns to action tonight in bidding for her second Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park (8.18pm).
The Fausto Gutierrez-trained daughter of Super Saver finished a disappointing 10th as the favourite in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff after an eight-race campaign last year.
The small but slect field of five includes two Eclipse Award champions and four Grade 1 winners for the $1 million stakes contest which is the second-richest dirt race for older females in the US.
Letruska was still voted the champion older dirt female despite her loss in the Distaff, while Ce Ce, who won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint was the Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter. The field also includes Grade 1 winners Clairiere and Maracuja.
Letruska, earner of $2.3 million, has raced just once following the Distaff, with an easy, front-running three-length win in the February 26th Grade 3 Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She will give 3lb to Ce Ce and Clairiere.
Ce Ce is not a typical sprinter and Michael McCarthy’s Elusive Quality mare won the 2020 Apple Blossom and tuned up for this year’s race with a three-quarter-length win in Oaklawn’s Grade 2 Azeri Stakes at this same distance over a quality field that included Pauline’s Pearl and 2020 Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil.
Maracuja, a four-year-old daughter of Honor Code, who upset three-year-old champion Malathaat to win last year’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, won an allowance claimer as a prep over the track three weeks ago.