Apple Blossom Handicap
|Grade I race|
Hot Springs, Arkansas
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Distance||1 1⁄16 miles (8.5 furlongs)|
Fillies / Mares|
Four-years-old & up
The Apple Blossom Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race run each year in early April during the Racing Festival of the South at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Grade I race is open to Fillies and Mares, four years old and up. A premier event for distaffers in the Spring, it is run over a distance of one and one-sixteenth miles on the dirt and currently offers a purse of $600,000, though these conditions are subject to change, as noted below.
First run in 1958, the Apple Blossom was held again in 1963 and then resumed as an annual event in 1968. Until 1973 it was run as a handicap purse but grew to become a Graded stakes race. Over the years it has been run at various distances:
- 1-1/8: 2010
- 1-1/16: 1958, 1980–2009, 2011–present
- 6 furlongs: 1963, 1968–1974
- 1 mile 70 yards: 1975–1979
2010 Edition proposal
On February 4, 2010, Oaklawn Park president Charles J. Cella announced possible major changes to the race. After negotiations with the owners of the two top females in U.S. racing in 2009, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, Cella announced that the purse would be increased to $5 million if both horses start in the 2010 edition of the race. If both stars race, the Apple Blossom will be run as a special weight invitational instead of an open handicap, with other top fillies and mares invited to race against them; all runners will carry 123 pounds (55.8 kg); and the race will increase in length to 1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs). If one or both do not race, the race will be run under handicap conditions with its original purse of $500,000. The distance will not revert to 8.5 furlongs for the 2010 edition regardless of starters.
As of February 11, 2010, the owners of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra respectively indicated their mares would run in this Handicap contingent upon their health and success in their respective prep races. However, on March 14, 2010, the day after a loss in the 1st running of the 1 1⁄16 miles $200,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds in New Orleans to Zardana, the connections of Rachel Alexandra announced that she would not run in the Apple Blossom.
Speed record: (at current distance of 1-1/16)
- 1:40.29 - Heatherten (1984) (New race and track record)
- 3 - Azeri (2002, 2003, 2004)
Most wins by a jockey:
- 6 - Mike E. Smith (1994, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010)
Most wins by a trainer:
- 4 - William I. Mott (1984, 1985, 1998, 2014)
Most wins by an owner: