04/08/2011 4:14PM

Keeneland: Apple Charlotte returns in tough spot on turf

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Tom Keyser
Apple Charlotte will return from a one-year layoff in an allowance race Sunday at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Allowance conditions in the spring condition book at Keeneland sometimes are written so that top-class horses returning from their winter breaks don’t necessarily have to rush right into the breach. That would seem the case Sunday, when the feature on one of the rare stakes-less programs of the 15-day meet drew a few fillies and mares likely to spend the rest of their year competing for black type.

Snow Top Mountain and Apple Charlotte, both returning from layoffs, are among the principals in the featured eighth of nine races, a $58,000, second-level turf allowance at one mile. Graham Motion, trainer of Apple Charlotte, has been eager to get the daughter of Smart Strike back into action following a one-year break, “but this sure is a tough race for a comeback.”

Actually, Apple Charlotte, listed as the 7-2 second choice on the Keeneland program, is one of the reasons the race looks so tough. The 4-year-old filly was so well regarded last spring that she was just 9-2 when finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes, a race in which she injured a knee, according to Motion. She was able to return to serious training in December, had a minor setback, then resumed in earnest when having four works in preparation for this.

Julien Leparoux has the call on Apple Charlotte, who will break from post 4 in an overflow field. Fourteen are entered, although only as many as 12 can start.

Meanwhile, Snow Top Mountain has been away for a lesser duration, having last raced in November, and has a number of variables in her favor: She draws the favorable rail slot when getting two-time Eclipse Award winner Garrett Gomez, and she boasts a steady slate of nine workouts at her winter base, Tampa Bay Downs, for trainer Tom Proctor.

Other contenders include yet two more fillies returning from layoffs, Ultimate Class and Kitty Love. One of the also-eligibles, Dynazaper, would seem to fit if drawn in.

One other allowance also is carded Sunday, and it also goes around two turns on turf as the sixth race, a first-level, $54,000 race with an overflow field.

After Sunday, the other days at this spring meet without a stakes are the three Wednesdays (April 13, 20, 27).