Background Check: Apple Blossom

In this continuing series, we examine the past winners of significant filly/mare races by the lasting influence they’ve had on the breed. Up today is the GI Apple Blossom H., Oaklawn’s signature distaff event.

The Apple Blossom is such a mainstay in the older filly and mare ranks that it might be a surprise to all but those with the longest memories that the first several winners were males. It’s the last 50 years that have been devoted exclusively to the ladies, resulting in a steady diet of champions in the older mare division. Despite past winners including Zenyatta, Azeri, Paseana (Arg), and Susan’s Girl, the Apple Blossom seems to get better and better. Surely races don’t get more exciting than in 2021 when Letruska, Monomoy Girl, and Swiss Skydiver–eventually all three Eclipse champions–came off the final turn together for an epic showdown.

Following are some of the most important Apple Blossom winners by what impact they’ve had on the sport through their sons and daughters.

Close Hatches (2010, First Defence–Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat), bred by Millsec, LTD.: Her first foal was Tacitus (Tapit), now a young sire whose first foals have been arriving this spring. He won three graded stakes, but also placed in six Grade I events, including the Kentucky Derby, Belmont S. , and Travers S.

Dream of Summer (1999, Siberian Summer–Mary’s Dream, by Skywalker), bred by James Weigel: This lovely California-bred has consistently punched above her weight, producing GISW and sire Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway), GISW Vexatious (Giant’s Causeway), and MGSW & GISP Destin (Giant’s Causeway). Her current 3-year-old filly, Summer Promise (Uncle Mo), is a TDN Rising Starand was runner-up in the GIII Schuylerville S. last year.

GISW Queen Goddess, descended from 1995 winner Heavenly Prize, was last seen winning the Pegasus F/M Turf Jan. 28 | Coglianese

Heavenly Prize (1991, Seeking the Gold–Oh What a Dance, by Nijinsky II), bred by Ogden Phipps: This Phipps homebred Hall of Famer produced MGISW Good Reward (Storm Cat) and GSW Pure Prize (Storm Cat), while her daughters and granddaughters have already imparted upon the sport GISWs Persistently (Smoke Glacken), Queen Goddess (Empire Maker), and Instilled Regard (Arch); GSW & MGISP Stays in Vegas (City Zip); and SW & MGISP Faithfully (Smart Strike).

Halo America (1990, Waquoit–Ameriangel, by Halo), bred by John Franks: Young sire and GI Preakness S. winner Cloud Computing (Maclean’s Music) is out of this gray’s MGSP daughter Quick Temper (A.P. Indy).

Gorgeous (1986, Slew o’ Gold–Kamar, by Key to the Mint), bred by Hermitage Farm, Inc., A. G. Clay, and R. N. Clay: Her descendants include English champion and G1SW Music Show (Ire) (Noverre); Venezuelan champion La Alpujarra (Ven) (Pioneerof the Nile); four-time GISW Turbulent Descent (Congrats); GISW Swift Temper (Giant’s Causeway); GSW & MGISP All Included (Include); and a number of other black-type winners.

Bayakoa (Arg) (1984, Consultant’s Bid–Arlucea {Arg}, by Good Manners), bred by Haras Principal: Despite limited opportunities, this Hall of Famer and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner is the granddam of MGISW and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (E Dubai), MGISW Affluent (Affirmed), and GSW Walkabout (Stroll).

Love Smitten (1981, Key to the Mint–Square Angel, by Quadrangle), bred by E. P. Taylor: A full-sister to the dam of Gorgeous, above, the final three of her five living foals were all black-type winners, but she’ll be remembered best as the dam of the glorious Swain (Ire) (Nashwan). The globetrotting English and Irish champion was a MG1SW on the grass, but it was his placings on the dirt in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic and G1 Dubai World Cup just a neck and a nose behind Silver Charm that endeared him to American audiences.

Track Robbery (1976, No Robbery–Left At Home, by Run For Nurse), bred by Edgar Kitchen: Dam of MGSW & MGISP Train Robbery (Alydar), she’s also granddam to GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Cat Thief (Storm Cat) and GISW Pohave (Holy Bull). A great-granddaughter is GSW and $2.2-million Summer Wind broodmare purchase Tapicat (Tapit).

Miss Baja (1975, Mr. Leader–Double Tollgate, by Carry Back), bred by Spears-Olsson Breeding Syndicate: She produced GSW Stoneleigh’s Hope (Damascus), while her descendants include two winners of Keeneland’s GI Darley Alcibiades S. in the last decade, Peace and War (War Front) and British Idiom (Flashback). The latter also won the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was named an Eclipse champion. Others tracing to Miss Baja include GSW & GISP Rushie (Liam’s Map), GSW Princess Pietrina (Spectacular Bid), and Argentina’s MGSW & G1SP Papa Inc (Arg) (Include).

Summertime Promise (1972, Nijinsky II–Prides Promise, by Crozier), bred by Paul Mellon: U.S. GISW and Japanese graded producer Teddy’s Promise (Salt Lake) descends from her, as do GSWs and useful sires Carson City (Mr. Prospector) and General Meeting (Seattle Slew).

Susan’s Girl (1969, Quadrangle–Quaze, by Quibu {Arg}), bred by F. W. Hooper, Jr.: They don’t come more hale and hearty than this Hall of Famer, multiple champion, and winner of 24 black-type events ranging from the Kentucky Oaks to the Apple Blossom, so it should be no surprise her triple Grade I-winning son Copelan (Tri Jet) would sire a number of tough and successful Florida-breds.

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