04/13/2012 6:17PM

Oaklawn: Plum Pretty starts season in top form with easy Apple Blossom win

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Coady Photography / Jeff Coady
Plum Pretty cruises home in the Apple Blossom under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty got her 4-year-old season started in a powerful way Friday at Oaklawn Park, when she shuttled to a 2 1/4- length win over Absinthe Minded in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap.

The score gave Plum Pretty’s trainer, Bob Baffert, his fifth graded win at the meet, and his second during the Racing Festival of the South that wraps up Saturday with the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

“If we can just keep going one more day,” said Baffert, who has Bodemeister and Secret Circle in the Arkansas Derby.

The Apple Blossom was Plum Pretty’s first start since November, when she finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. She hopped out at the start of the mile and a sixteenth race, and assumed a tracking position behind Twelve Twenty Two, who showed the way through an opening quarter of a mile in 23.89 and a half-mile in 47.54.

Plum Pretty and jockey Rafael Bejarano engaged the pacesetter into the final turn, maintained a measured lead around the bend, then started to move away from the field at the quarter pole. Plum Pretty covered the distance on a track rated fast in a sharp 1:42.64. She paid $3 to win.

“It was a little anxious moment at the start, then [Bejarano] got her to settle,” said Baffert, who trains Plum Pretty for Peachtree Stable.

“She was so strong today.”

Bejarano was pleased with the effort from Plum Pretty.  

“She was great relaxing and after a half-mile I felt in total control,” he said. “She was ready to go when I asked her.”

Plum Pretty, who was the 117-pound starting highweight in the Apple Blossom following the defection of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, won her second Grade 1 race in the Apple Blossom. Overall, she has won 5 of 11 starts and $1,656,700. Plum Pretty is a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.

Baffert said next-race plans are to be determined for Plum Pretty.

“She’ll go to California and we’ll map out something later on,” he said. “We’ll pick out a spot. She’ll tell us when she’s ready to go somewhere.”

Tiz Miz Sue finished third in the Apple Blossom, a neck behind Absinthe Minded. It was another 14 lengths back in fourth to Holy Heavens, then three more lengths to Twelve Twenty Two.

Attendance at Oaklawn on Friday was 22,629.

Randy Perez More than 1 year ago
Nice race by Plum Pretty, I think Baffert has the Best Filly or Mare in the Country and her name is NOT Plum Pretty..... He has a filly named Awesomeundo that I think will be the top mare in the country this year.
Wayne Haehner More than 1 year ago
Randy-you are delusional--with Havre De Grace, Awesome Maria and Royal Delta in this division--and you name the maybe 4th best mare out there--good luck with that
Randy Perez More than 1 year ago
Wayne, you do realize I said AWESOMEMUNDO and not Plum Pretty... do you even know who AWESOMEMUNDO IS....? you will hear a ton from her by end of the year..... I am not delusional trust me..... HDG is extremly OVER-RATED and Awesome Maria has beat up on a bunch of PIGS at Gulfstream..... Wait and see grasshopper.
D More than 1 year ago
I think looking at that race Jones ducked Plum Pretty...
Mike More than 1 year ago
They probably knew PP was training super good.
st More than 1 year ago
Every race has its own pace and uniqueness. Comparing is fun but not 100 percent accurate science. Bejarnao's job is to win the race and use the amount of plum pretty it takes to win the race. It doesn't have to impress the clock or set a track record. The check for first prize cashes the same. Havre de Grace is the most overated filly of all time, just because she got to be the filly "it" horse after Zenyatta,,doesnt mean HDG is legendary by any means. Plum Pretty on her best day holds her own against the other fillies but not An all time horse by any means
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
Kudos to connections of the horses that were willing to actually run, and not whine about weights in this Grade 1 race. Wonderful that the Peach Tree Stables didnt balk at running their horse off a long lay off against horses coming in 2nd and 3rd off the layoff to take a Grade 1. Some connections are classy and run their horses in top tier races. No one complained about weight, no one asked for a bump in the purse and no one felt the need to call out the race track and its employees about 1 or 2 lbs. Congrats to Baffert and his great filly Plum Pretty, respect to connections that run at top tier tracks in races that matter. Unfortunate that the other horse didn't show up. But a large crowd on hand to watch a Grade 1 filly win a grade 1 race regardless of 1 or 2 lbs.
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
Let's stick to the race, Wesley. Asking ANY horse to make up 3+lengths to a horse that won in a 1 1/16th race with the very good time of 142 and change and wasn't coming back to the field was asking too much this early in the game. Mr. Pope, you have been exposed, sir!
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
Read the breakdown below and you can begin your silence.
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
I agree, let's stick to the race, maybe Plum Pretty should have been saddled with 126 and HDG 119 like Its Tricky? Think she would have run then, I don't.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Are you talking about the HOY who already had a race against Plum Pretty who was off 5 months? give that nonsense a rest. HdG is overrated.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
For starters I am no Mensa member but I will weigh in here.. Kudos to the impressive Plum Pretty winning as she should. This was the equivalent to a walk over in a prestigious grade 1 spot. She will be dynamite if sound this year. I agree with Janice. Among a few factors the HDG connections just felt it was too early to carry that weight against Plum Pretty. They know their animal well. What is wrong with a conservative approach early then gain momentum while being around in October? Everyone who disagrees certainly can weigh in but in the end it a judgement call by ownership. That right comes along with putting millions into the game like Porter and showing up at the barn at 4:30 365 days a year like Larry Jones does. Mr. Pope had a chance to give America and OP a nice race but chose to make a stand. What he got was a virtual walkover and a field not fitting this great race. Also at play here is the personal side of things. Pope may have assigned 119 and HDG still not have ran. Pope sold out Porter/Jones at Delaware when he caved to unreported Hollendorfer's ultimatum of getting weight. Don't care what Steve Davidovich reported. That is how I heard it from a ground zero source and firmly believe it happened. I cannot quibble with folks who choose to believe another source. Pope knew HDG was there at DEL, he wanted Blind Luck badly and did what it took to make the match to the detriment of HDG. Now in 2012 he had the same choice but this time he chose to put weight on HDG rather than make the real race go ala 2011 DEL Handicap style. Seems like he is not consistent but he can make the call and then live with it. In the end it is inconsequential. Larry, Rick and Pope will remain a universe apart. Bad blood like this takes years to clean itself. HDG will appear in many fitting spots and make her share of appearances in the winner's circle. Porter will continue to win races and Larry will continue to get his picture took with Cindy and Corey after the races at a clip of 25%+. Pat Pope will probably grow into his job as a racing secretary at two major venues.
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
Good post, David. There is only one Mensa here, didn't you know? ;-) You are right on with your comments, whether you're in the top two percent in intelligence or not. If some people would stop burying their heads in numbers and look at the obvious 3+ lengths being asked to give up, they just might see the truth, here. ;-) If HDG had 3 or more races under her belt and several more works, I might concede to the other side, but at a 1 1/16th ( 1 1/8th being HDG's best ) I would think that is too tall an order at this point in the year. Larry sure thinks so, and as you said, David, there is nothing wrong with bringing her along slowly with the idea of her making through the Fall running her strongest. When it is your horse, people, you can make that call. Who knows their horse better, FHF or us?
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
Very nice race by Plum Pretty! Congratulations to her connections! Won in 142 and change and never looked back! Was training very well and looked like she would improve off of her 3 year-old Oaks winning form. Ask HdG to give up 3 lengths + at this this distance to this horse? Maybe someone should be taking lessons on handicapping from Mr. Jones. ;-) Mr. Pope, are you listening? ;-)
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
Clueless, inaccurate statements again, if you look at the way the professional handicapper weighted them and clearly you dont understand how a pound would translate in a 8.5 furlong race, Considering the fact that the numbers that you just mentioned are extrapolated for a 1 1/4 mile race. SMH. Therefore if as you stated 2 lbs is 1 length and 1/5 of a second is 1 length in race time, and Plum Pretty ran the 8.5 in 1.42.64 and HDG ran her fastest 8.5f race in 1:42.02 that would meant that the 6 lbs or 3 lengths that Pat Pope would be spot on, please recognize that this is why he's a professional racing secretary and he does this for a living, that's correct his job is to handicap weights, but you go by incorrect word of mouth. Then you come to this website very misled. His job as stated when weighting handicaps is to bring horses to the finish line together and in this instance would have brought the two fillies to the finish line at the exact same time considering Grace's fastest time at the distance on the surface or at this track would be 3 lengths faster than Plum Pretty ran today. Seems as if you just received a free lesson in handicapping 101. If you would take a moment and do the research for yourself and not follow the words of the owner of the horse that ducked the race like the few followers they still have, then you'd have this information and wouldn't be putting these incorrect statements out there for all to see. IJS
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
He is as clueless as you, sir! The whole point is you don't ask, nor do they want to ask, HdG for a mid-season type of performance at this point and risk burning her out for later, MORE important races. YES, I said More important races! ;-) You and Mr. Pope are the clueless ones who hide behind numbers and are blind to the logic right in front of you. I don't need any lessons to learn this. This is not your horse and they are SMART enough to look out for her long-range interests, not one race that means a heck of a lot more to you and Oaklawn than it does to them. When you own her, then by all means feel free to make the call.
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
Ok so when presented with the "facts" that refute your inaccurate statements from beginning to end. It reverts back to your opinions which are misguided due to a blind allegiance to a man that thus far has campaigned his horse as if she should be running in nw/2 races. Again Mr. Pope's job is to analyze numbers and weigh the race accordingly. His job is not to try to play favors to a set of connections that are holding grudges about something that happened 9 almost 10 months ago. Let it go already, she wasnt prepared to run in a Grade 1 race this weekend, we get it, the best place for her was on parade at Keeneland, skipping the most respected race for fillies and mares at this time of the year in the Whole Country. More important races, let's see would that be the Grade 3 Obeah, or the Grade 2 Del Cap. Hmm, weaker races that most top tier horses dont aim for, but im sure HDG will be. Right now FHF is the laughingstock of horse racing. I wonder what the Europeans would say about a quite large mare that isnt capable of being weighted 123 when the smallish Goldikova carried 130 numerous times. Difference in Class, what do you think? I do know one thing, top tier respected connections dont whine and bemoan weights, and dont hold year long grudges. But let's wait until the Del Cap and see what the "Pioneer"??? as someone called Porter does when he has to give weight to Royal Delta and Awesome Maria. lol
Janice Palmer More than 1 year ago
Shouldn't a handicapper take into account whether or not a horse is in early-season form or mid-season form, etc. when assigning weights? It seems like a huge oversight, if not, and risking the horse being ( especially a filly ) in top form throughout the year -- especially when she is for the most part all through the year carrying more weight than her competitors. I agree with you, she is not in mid-season form, nor do they want her there now, or ask her for that type of performance at this stage. You and I know the bigger races we are talking about -- prestigious unrestricted races against males, and the BC. I'm not going to sit here and tell you she'll do wonderfully this year, but unlike you, I hope she does and think her connections are doing what they feel is best to bring her best out at the most important time -- HOY awards or popularity awards aside. ;-) BTW, I think you know we are not talking about the 123 ibs., or even being top weight, it's the weight spread, the distance, given the time of year that it's asking her to give up and how hard it is asking her to work -- there is an accumulating affect on a horse. Whether or not you and others agree, FHF is doing what they feel is best for Grace in the long run, and it is their call, not yours or mine. I trust Larry's judgment of mine, yours, and yes Mr. Pope's, too. When you become the kind of expert trainer Larry is, then I might listen to you. ;-)
Mike More than 1 year ago
Nonsense, Plum Pretty was off 5 months and that Hype of the Year has already ran once. Of course this Hype of the year was getting weight from non-stakes winner. Sadder than sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think Pope's weights were fair. Maybe Plum Pretty should have been given 118 or 119, but Havre de Grace should have been at least 124. 123 is the standard weight for a champion. But Havre de Grace isn't just a champion, she is HoY. I would think for the HoY, 123 is very fair. Zenyatta started 2010 with 127, and she wasn't even HoY. As for the weight spread, maybe the difference between Havre de Grace and Plum Pretty should have been 5(124-119), but not running over 1 lbs? What did Porter and Jones want the spread to be, 2 lbs? Plum Pretty is a newly turned 4 year old that had never won a stakes outside her age group, making her first start of the year and first start since a poor 5th in the Ladies classic. Havre de Grace is a 5 year old HoY that already had a race on the year. Listen, if it's too early in the season to ask Havre de Grace for a taxing effort, then it's Porter and Jones' perogative not to run. But at least be big enough to own up to it. Don't turn around and cry about the wieghts and make it seem like Mr. Pope held a gun to your head and made you not run. In short, the weight Pope assigned seemed fair, the spread was at worst 1 lbs off, and Porter and Jones have the right to avoid a tough race so early on. Where Jones and Porter are off, in my opinion, is fussing and crying as if Pope committed some grand injustice and then hiding behind the weights for why they pulled their mare. By the way, i don't remember Porter complaining about weight when Havre de Grace beat Blind Luck a head in the Cotillion while in receipt of 10 lbs. TEN POUNDS even though Blind Luck had only beaten Havre de Grace a neck in the Del Oaks and Alabama.
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
Wonderful race by a very nice filly in Plum Pretty.