July 16, 2024

Close Hatches too classy for Apple Blossom rivals

Last updated: 4/11/14 9:10 PM

Close Hatches led every step of the way in the Apple Blossom

(Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Close Hatches opened the year with a gate-to-wire
victory in Oaklawn Park’s Azeri on March 15, and on Friday parlayed that into a
1 1/4-length score in the Grade 1, $588,000

Apple Blossom Handicap

The four-year-old daughter of First Defense broke on top from her inside post
and took command under jockey Joel Rosario. The duo led the way through splits
of :23 2/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 3/5 while tracked by Rose to Gold and On Fire Baby
behind. Let Faith Arise took up position just off On Fire Baby’s flank, and
Stanwyck was biding her time well back in last of the five-distaffer field.

Nearing the turn, Rose to Gold began backing up and Stanwyck had begun her
run on the outside. Close Hatches maintained her advantage in the lane while
Stanwyck briefly loomed large down the center of the track. The Bill
Mott-trained eventual winner proved her class and refused to yield, finishing 1
1/16 miles on the fast dirt in 1:42 3/5 to return $3.40 as the 3-5 favorite.

On Fire Baby was seeking a second straight Apple Blossom win after taking the
2013 running by a half-length, but just could not catch Close Hatches. The gray
mare was game in the stretch run, though, and got the best of Stanwyck by a
length on the wire. Let Faith Arise followed by another three parts of a length
while Rose to Gold was distanced in last, 11 1/4 lengths behind the fourth-place

Close Hatches now boasts five stakes victories, adding the Apple Blossom to
scores in the Cotillion and Mother Goose, both Grade 1s, as well as the Grade 2
Gazelle from her sophomore season. The dark bay miss suffered the only non
top-two finish of her career when running a subpar seventh in the Kentucky Oaks
last May, but quickly rebounded 24 days later to be second in the Acorn.

Close Hatches closed out 2013 with a nice second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff
and made her four-year-old bow an easy win in the Azeri off the four-month break
last out. She’s now banked $1,847,300 in lifetime earnings to go along with her
10-7-2-0 career mark.

Bred in Kentucky by Millsec Ltd., Close Hatches is the first registered foal
out of the winning Storm Cat mare Rising Tornado, who is herself a daughter of
the listed-placed Zafonic mare Silver Star. Close Hatches’ third dam is the
Group 3-winning Sir Ivor mare Monroe, from whom is descended the likes of
English, Irish and French highweight sire Xaar and multiple Grade 1-winning
stallion Senure.

Most notably, Close Hatches’ fourth dam is the blue-hen mare Best in Show,
who was honored as the 1982 Broodmare of the Year. She is the dam of 1982
Kentucky Oaks queen Blush With Pride, who is the granddam of champion Rags to
Riches, Jazil and Man of Iron. Rags to Riches captured the 2007 editions of the
Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Oaks, Jazil was king of the 2006 Belmont Stakes and
Man if Iron proved victorious in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

Best in Show is the ancestress of numerous champions and highweights,
including top sires Aldebaran, Spinning World, Redoute’s Choice and El Gran

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