04/21/2011 12:48PM

Woodbine: Indian Apple Is starts season in Whimsical

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The usually consistent Indian Apple Is ended last year on a downer when she finished far back in the Bessarabian Stakes. She begins this season Saturday in the $150,000 Whimsical Stakes as a newly crowned champion, having been voted the 2010 Sovereign Award for the leading female sprinter in the country.

Indian Apple Is won 3 of 7 starts and $302,826 last year. She captured two stakes, including the Ontario Fashion over six furlongs, which just happens to be the distance of the Grade 3 Whimsical.

Trainer Bob Tiller said the circumstances worked against Indian Apple Is in the seven-furlong Bessarabian in November.

“She got boxed in on the fence,” Tiller recalled. “There was some bumping and squeezing going on, and she got down in there in a big field and didn’t like it. She can run on the inside, but she prefers to have clear sailing on the outside.”

Tiller said Indian Apple Is spent the winter in Ontario at trainer Paul Buttigieg’s farm.

“She was only off for about six weeks,” said Tiller. “She went back into training in the middle of January. She’s worked just fine, as good as she always has. She’s in good order.”

Luis Contreras inherits the mount on Indian Apple Is from the departed Chantal Sutherland.

The Whimsical has also lured Grade 1 winner Hooh Why and Ariana D.

Hooh Why, a 24-1 winner of the Grade 1 Ashland in 2009, had a busy 2010 campaign, during which she won 2 of 10 starts at four different tracks. She was a Sovereign finalist for champion female sprinter and champion older female.

Hooh Why defeated Indian Apple Is in both of their meetings last year, when she won the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes and finished third in the Bessarabian.

Hooh Why got the winter off, and trainer Mark Hoffman recently shipped her from Florida to Hawthorne, a trip that he said he regretted.

“I couldn’t breeze her there, and it screwed me up,” said Hoffman. “The weather was nasty, and the track was bad. I’d feel much more comfortable if I had one last breeze in her.”

Ariana D has been idle since her closing score in the Bessarabian, in which she came very wide from last in a 12-horse field to prevail by a neck over Sugar Again.

Also entered are Waccamaw and Wildcat Marie, who figure to link up on the lead. Shukriya completes the field.