03/11/2014 11:16AM

Oaklawn Park: Close Hatches coming for Azeri

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Tom Keyser
Close Hatches, winning the Grade 1 Cotillion last year, runs Saturday in the Azeri and could return to Oaklawn for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 11.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Close Hatches, the runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, is scheduled to launch her 4-year-old season in the Grade 2, $200,000 Azeri at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, said her trainer, Bill Mott.

“We’re planning on coming,” Mott said Tuesday. “Our thinking coming to the Azeri is that if she would run well over the track, we might come back for the Apple Blossom.”

The Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares, is April 11.

Close Hatches, who races for Juddmonte Farms, was an Eclipse Award finalist for champion 3-year-old filly of 2013. She went 5 for 8 last year, among her wins the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park and Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx. Mott said she was freshened following her runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup.

Joel Rosario has the mount on Saturday.

On Fire Baby, the winner of last year’s Apple Blossom, is scheduled to make her 5-year-old debut in the Azeri, trainer Gary Hartlage said. Others expected are Dixie Strike, Don’t Tell Sophia, Flashy American and Sister Ginger. Magic Union is being considered for the race, trainer John Sadler said Monday.

The field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Razorback, also at Oaklawn on Saturday, will include Fury Kapcori, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Monday.