LETRUSKA REPEATS THE WIN IN SATURDAY’S APPLE BLOSSOM
Letruska taking the 58th Running of the GI Apple Blossom Handicap
Photo credit: Coady Photography
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 23, 2022) – Following in the footsteps of Hall of Famers Paseana, Azeri and Zenyatta, St. George Stable LLC’s champion Letruska used her front-running style to become just the fourth horse in the race’s history to win more than one edition of the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) on Saturday.
Ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, Letruska broke sharply and quickly gained control through early fractions of :23 3/5 and :47 1/5 for the first half mile. 2020 Apple Blossom winner and champion Ce Ce tried to engage the winner around the turn for home, but had to settle for third after being caught late by Grade 1 winner Clairiere for second. However, neither were a match for the reigning Champion Older Mare, who won by 1 ¼ lengths in a final time of 1:42 1/5 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track.
“This horse is different,” winning trainer Fausto Gutierrez said. “To win the Apple Blossom twice is great. This was a handicap and now we’re giving weight, you have to remember that. When we won the Apple Blossom last year, Monomoy (Girl) was giving us weight. That’s a difference this year. She ran great. All the time I’m nervous with these races. She’s come back in good form and now we’re thinking about the next race.”
Letruska, a 6-year-old Super Saver mare, improved her record to 19-1-1 in 25 starts and has earned $2,948,529. She returned $3.80, $2.60 and $2.10 as the heavy 4-5 favorite.
Live racing at Oaklawn returns Sunday with a 1 p.m. first post.
Winning trainer Fausto Gutierrez, Letruska: “This horse is different. To win the Apple Blossom twice is great. This was a handicap and now we’re giving weight, you have to remember that. When we won the Apple Blossom last year, Monomoy (Girl) was giving us weight. That’s a difference this year. She ran great. All the time I’m nervous with these races. She’s come back in good form and now we’re thinking about the next race. I think she’ll leave tomorrow night or Monday and go back to Keeneland.”
Winning jockey Jose Ortiz, Letruska: “I used my weapon. I knew Clairiere would be coming late so I used my speed and I was able to hold her off. I felt my filly was in a very nice rhythm. I knew with the way she running the last 1/8th pole it would take a super horse to go by her. I knew they were there, but when I felt her switch to the left lead I felt she gave me another gear and when I looked, I saw the other filly (Clairiere) there, but I never thought they were going to go by.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, second on Clairiere: “It looked the horse that took the lead (Letruska) was the horse to beat. She (Clairiere) ran really well, too. Tried really nicely. A little more speed will be better for us, but she ran well.”
Jockey Victor Espinoza, third on Ce Ce: “Turning for home, I got a little excited. She ran a good race. It’s the way the race set up because nobody really challenged her (Letruska) in the race, like the first five-eighths. It’s hard to catch horses like that in front. But Ce Ce, she ran well.”