01/12/2011 6:16PM

Strong group of fillies and mares at Oaklawn

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Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo
Havre de Grace, defeating Blind Luck in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Parx Racing, is among a trio of top-notch females trainer Larry Jones has at Oaklawn Park.

A year after Zenyatta shipped in for the Apple Blossom, the filly and mare ranks at Oaklawn are quite deep. Larry Jones has three of the best females on the grounds in Havre de Grace, who was third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic in her last start Nov. 5; No Such Word, who took the Grade 1 Gazelle at Aqueduct in her most recent out Nov. 27; and Payton d’Oro, a Grade 2 winner of more than $400,000.

Other members of the filly and mare division in Hot Springs include Taptam and Superior Storm, the second-place finishers from the last two runnings of the Apple Blossom, and Be Fair, who was third in the race in 2010. The preps leading up to this year’s Apple Blossom, a 1 1/16-mile handicap to be run April 15, are the $75,000 Pippin on Jan. 22, the $100,000 Bayakoa on Feb. 19, and the Grade 3, $100,000 Azeri on March 19.

Havre de Grace was freshened after the Breeders’ Cup and arrived at Oaklawn on Jan. 4. She is now in the care of Jones after being trained by Tony Dutrow.

“The biggest thing right now is to learn something about her,” Jones said. “We’re just trying to get a little feel for her. The ideal situation would be to get her ready for the Azeri and the Apple Blossom.”

No Such Word could also develop into a candidate for the Apple Blossom, said Jones. She was given 30 days off following the Gazelle, and could make her first start of the year in the Bayakoa. Payton d’Oro won the Bayakoa last year, when it was run in April.

With the race’s move to February, it gives Oaklawn one additional stepping-stone to the Apple Blossom.

Taptam, who won last year’s Pippin leading up to the Apple Blossom, is being pointed for a stakes at Sam Houston Race Park next weekend and from there will make her way back to Hot Springs.

“I'd like to follow a similar path as last year, but obviously not run in the Pippin because she’ll run on Texas Champions Day,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Taptam. “The next one, the Bayakoa, will possibly be a spot for her. We’ll point for most of the filly and mare two-turn races over there. I know she has an affinity for that track. She really seems to thrive over there.”

◗ Zenyatta bobbleheads will be given away on Monday while supplies last. In another opening weekend promotion, there will be 50-cent corned beef sandwiches on Saturday.

◗ Oaklawn’s races will be shown on HRTV.