February 28, 2024

Clairiere rallies to edge Secret Oath in Apple Blossom

Clairiere wins the Apple Blossom Handicap (Photo by Coady Photography)

Clairiere erased a sizable deficit with massive strides through the stretch of Saturday’s $1 million Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park, overhauling Secret Oath in the final yards to prevail by a neck.

The five-year-old mare recorded her third Grade 1 victory by virtue of the thrilling late run, pushing her career earnings to $2,831,392 from an 18-7-5-3 career line, and she gained a measure of revenge upon Secret Oath after finishing second to her rival in the Azeri (G2) on March 11.

Regular rider Joel Rosario was up for Steve Asmussen, and Clairiere bided her time well off the pace in the short field, third of four runners as Hot and Sultry showed speed. The 4-1 pacesetter led by about five lengths through splits in :24.01 and :47.88, and Secret Oath stalked in second.

Secret Oath, the 0.70-1 favorite, advanced closer nearing the conclusion of the far turn, but Clairiere was still another five lengths back of her rival approaching the stretch drive.

In upper stretch, Secret Oath powered her way to a clear advantage, but Clairiere was starting to find her best stride. The winner came flying late to get up, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.36.

Owned and bred by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm, Clairiere left the starting gate as the 3-2 second choice. Secret Oath was 3 1/2 lengths clear of Hot and Sultry, and I Feel the Need trailed throughout.

Clairiere posted wins in the Ogden Phipps (G1) and Shuvee (G2) last summer, defeating eventual champion older mare Malathaat both times, and she just missed in her 2022 finale, finishing a neck third behind Malathaat in a three-horse Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) photo finish. The classy daughter of Curlin also counts the 2021 Cotillion (G1) among her five stakes triumphs.

The Kentucky-bred bay mare is out of the three-time Grade 1-winning Cavorting, a daughter of Bernardini, and Cavorting has also produced stakes winner La Crete. Clairiere has won or placed in 13 stakes.