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Emily Shields provides analysis for the weekend's best racing at Oaklawn Park and looks at the international racing from Japan

Saturday's Best Bet

Ce Ce - Apple Blossom G1 (Oaklawn Park)Click here to bet with TVG

The $600,000 Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park and the $2.2 million Satsuki Sho (G1) at Nakayama in Japan head the weekend’s racing action, all of which will be shown live on TVG.

The Apple Blossom is a 1 1/16-mile contest for older fillies and mares, and drew a field so deep it has been likened to a Breeders’ Cup race. There are five Grade 1 winners in the field, including Beholder Mile (G1) heroine Ce Ce, who drew outside the group of 14. She has won three of her five starts and is unbeaten in two 2020 tries.

2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress is 4-1 on the morning line despite winning the local prep for this, the Azeri (G2), by over six lengths. Come Dancing makes her 2020 debut for trainer D Wayne Lukas after changing barns. She was a four-time graded stakes winner over three different tracks last year.

Flying under the radar for this race are longer shots Points of Honor (10-1), Cookie Dough (10-1), Go Google Yourself (12-1), and Lady Apple (15-1).

Point of Honor, a Grade 2 winner last year and twice Grade 1 placed, was off from August 17 until March 7 and finished second in her comeback. Cookie Dough was one of the top sophomore fillies last year and won over this distance in the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park last out. Go Google Yourself is unbeaten on the track, won a Grade 3 here in February, and has never been worse than third in nine tries at the distance. Lady Apple has three wins in four starts over the surface and defeated both Serengeti Empress and Grade 1 winner Street Band two back.

On the undercard of the Apple Blossom is the $350,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). 11 sprinters will vie in the six-furlong contest, which has two-time winner Whitmore seeking an unprecedented third win in the race. He has won eight of 13 over the track and scored in the local prep for this, but faces a tough field including California shipper Flagstaff from the John Sadler barn, and the Bill Mott trainee Hidden Scroll, once considered a leading 2019 Kentucky Derby contender.

The first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown kicks off Sunday, April 19 (Saturday evening in the United States), with the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas). Unbeaten Contrail, who was named last year’s Champion Two Year Old, will clash with Salios, also unbeaten and narrowly ranked higher than his rival. Both runners have won three starts each, and neither has raced yet this year. Those with more recent experience include Godolphin’s Darlington Hall and Grade 2 winner Satono Flag. L’Excellence is also unbeaten in three tries, but has yet to face graded company.


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