July 13, 2024

Wet Paint returns to action in Apple Blossom; Skelly back for Count Fleet Sprint defense

Wet Paint wins the Fantasy Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Last year’s champions in the female dirt divisions, Idiomatic and Pretty Mischievous, won’t be back in action for another three weeks or so, but Saturday’s $1.25 million Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn Park, which has often served as a comeback race for filly and mare champions, doesn’t lack in interest.

Wet Paint was one of the more accomplished three-year-old fillies last season, her signature win coming in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). For the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom she returns to a track over which she is 3-for-3, including scores in the Honeybee (G3) and Fantasy (G3) that impressed bettors enough to make her the favorite for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), ultimately won by Pretty Mischievous.

Wet Paint was a dull eighth to Idiomatic in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) when last seen. Adare Manor didn’t fare much better in that race either, finishing seventh, but she was the dominant older mare in Southern California last season and should have gotten a lot of out of her second-place finish in her season opener, the March 9 Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita.

Taxed was a bit inconsistent last term, her only win coming in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico. However, she outran expectations in a six-furlong allowance prep at Oaklawn last month, making up a double-digit deficit to win by 3 1/2 lengths, an impressive feat for a deep-closing filly who much prefers a distance of ground.

Honor D Lady invades from Florida, where she captured the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream in mid-February. Misty Veil won the Pippin S. at Oaklawn in January prior to placing in the Bayakoa (G3) and Azeri (G2). Bellamore ran third in the Azeri after taking the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) by a neck over Free Like a Girl, while Molly Pitcher (G3) heroine Shotgun Hottie has a bit of form to find against these. The field is rounded out by Flying Connection, who has done her best work versus lesser at the New Mexico tracks.

The supporting feature is the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3), where defending titlist Skelly figures to be an overwhelming favorite. The Steve Asmussen trainee recently saw his win streak halted at seven when finishing second in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) in Saudi Arabia.

Jaxon Traveler, Tejano Twist, and Ryvit, the top three across the wire in last month’s Whitmore (G3), are the most logical threats to upset.