04/04/2009 11:00PM

Seventh Street grabs first Grade 1


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he believed Seventh Street was a Grade 1 kind of filly earlier this week, and she proved it in her first attempt on Saturday, going wire to wire for a 5 3/4- length win in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Superior Storm finished second, 5 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher and 2-5 favorite Acoma.

The Apple Blossom opened Oaklawn's annual Racing Festival of the South, when nine stakes worth $2.8 million are run over the final week of the meet that closes April 11.

Seventh Street ($6) got the break in the mile and a sixteenth Apple Blossom, and easily moved to the lead through an opening quarter in 24.18 seconds, stalked by Superior Storm. Seventh Street and rider Rajiv Maragh proceeded to lead through fractions of 48.15 and 1:12. She completed the distance on a fast track in 1:43.13.

"It was a great performance, a great ride," said McLaughlin. "Being as she broke well, Rajiv settled her and appeared to have a lot left turning for home."

"She sprinted home," said Maragh. "It was just like she re-broke at the quarter pole, then sprinted to the wire."

Acoma, who was seeking her fourth consecutive graded stakes win off a powerful score in the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri here last month, broke slow and settled in fourth in the early stages of the Apple Blossom.

"They went slow up front and never came back to us," said Julien Leparoux, who rode Acoma. "Rajiv Maragh stole the race."

Acoma created a $136,900 minus show pool in the Apple Blossom.

McLaughlin said Seventh Street could make her next start in one of two races: the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on May 2 at Churchill Downs or the Grade 2 Shuvee on May 16 at Belmont Park. She earned $300,000 for her Apple Blossom win for Darley Stable.

* Attendance ontrack Saturday was 28,208. Handle on the 11-race card from all sources was $5,694,748. Of that amount, $1.7 million was bet on the live card ontrack Saturday.