03/05/2007 12:00AM

Baghdaria advances toward Apple Blossom

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Baghdaria remains on course for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 7 after her romping comeback win last weekend at Delta Downs. Baghdaria was a 7 1/4-length winner of the $75,000 Sweetheart, in what was her first start since finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

She led throughout in the one-mile Sweetheart, covered the distance in a strong 1:39.50, and earned one of the best Beyer Speed Figures of her career, a 90.

"She bounced out of it fine," said Tom Amoss, who trains Baghdaria. "The race went as we hoped it would. We hoped it would make a great stepping-stone to the Apple Blossom."

Amoss said Baghdaria would ship to Oaklawn as the Apple Blossom nears. She is based at Fair Grounds. Baghdaria won three Grade 3 races last year. Some of her competition for the Apple Blossom will be determined this weekend. Oaklawn's local prep for the race, the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup, is to be run Saturday. Last year, Round Pond won the Azeri in a thriller over Happy Ticket.

A True Pussycat, who has won back-to-back stakes at Aqueduct, is among the early probables for this year's Azeri. She was scheduled to arrive at Oaklawn on Tuesday afternoon, said her trainer, Thomas Bush. She will be ridden by Norberto Arroyo Jr.

Bush said A True Pussycat will fly to Memphis, then make a 3 1/2-hour van ride to Hot Springs. In her last two starts, she won the $67,000 Get Lucky, a restricted stakes, and the $66,000 Lady on the Run. A True Pussycat will make her graded-stakes debut Saturday.

"They didn't have anything graded in New York until the end of this month, so we were looking for someplace to run her in a graded race," said Bush. "I know you stick your neck out traveling this far, but we feel she's done well enough and deserves a chance."

Officials said other early probables for the Azeri are Grade 2 winner India, who was to be flown here Wednesday from Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher; Les Ry Leigh, the third-place finisher in the Grade 2 La Canada, who is traveling from Santa Anita for trainer James Cassidy; Gasia, a multiple stakes winner for trainer Larry Jones; and Kettleoneup, who worked in blinkers Monday for trainer Mike Tomlinson.

The return of Run Alex Run

Run Alex Run, who finished a troubled third to the future Grade 1 winner Circular Quay in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor last July, will make his first start as a 3-year-old in the featured ninth race Wednesday.

The six-furlong optional claimer for 3-year-olds drew seven, including the multiple-stakes-placed Sequoia King.

Run Alex Run won his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths in a five-furlong race at Churchill Downs last May. He became the first U.S. winner for his young sire, Officer, according to his trainer, Jinks Fires. One race later, Run Alex Run finished two lengths behind Circular Quay in the Bashford Manor, also at Churchill.

"We thought he got in a lot of trouble," said Fires, who trains Run Alex Run for Patricia Blass. "It was just not a picture-perfect race. He did get blocked, he circled them wide in the turn, lost a lot of ground. It's just the way races fall sometimes. We thought it was a strong race."

Plans after the Bashford Manor were to take Run Alex Run to Saratoga for the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, but they did not materialize.

"His feet were bothering him, and we couldn't find out exactly what was causing it," said Fires. "He also had some remodeling of the shins. So, for a combination of things, we stopped on him and turned him out and let nature take its course."

Run Alex Run was given a clean bill of health before returning to training, and has fired four consecutive bullet works for his return. Stewart Elliott has been working Run Alex Run and has the mount on Wednesday. They will break from post 7.

"He acts like he'll run from anywhere," said Fires.

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Oaklawn moves to a five-day-a-week racing schedule Wednesday. The track will run Wednesdays through Sundays for the rest of the meet, with the lone exception no live card on Easter Sunday, April 8.

Field of nine for Razorback

Entries for the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeder's Cup here Friday were drawn on Monday, and the 1 1/16-mile race drew a field of nine led by 119-pound starting highweight Jonesboro. The winner of the Grade 3 Essex on Feb. 10, he drew post 7. Trainer Randy Morse has given the mount to Calvin Borel.

The field, from the rail with riders is: Kid Grindstone, Jesse Campbell; Chippewa Trail, John Jacinto; Red Raymond, Luis Quinonez; Student Council, Robby Albarado; Magna Graduate, John Velazquez; Mr. Pursuit, Cliff Berry; Jonesboro; Sandburr, Eddie Razo Jr.; and Steppenwolfer, Corey Lanerie.

Magna Graduate will race with blinkers off in the Razorback. The race is the first of three stakes that were moved to Fridays this meet in order to reward fans traveling here for a full weekend of racing, said officials with Oaklawn.

o Grade 3 Rebel candidate Hard Spun breezed a half-mile in 50 seconds Monday.

"We just wanted to stretch his legs a little," said his trainer, Larry Jones. "We galloped him two miles yesterday and he came back bucking and kicking and acted like he wanted to do a little something. We just let him blow off a little steam this morning."

* Grade 1 winner Wildcat Bettie B drilled five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 seconds here Monday. Jones said her major objective this meet is the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13.

* Borel was not named to ride here Wednesday because he is traveling to Florida, said his agent, Jerry Hissam. Borel is scheduled to work top Kentucky Derby candidate Street Sense on Thursday morning, and is to ride here on Thursday.