"She did it the way she wanted to do it," Meah said, "so there was no point in pulling her back. She's definitely better now than she was last year and is doing everything the right way. It's almost frightening to think what she could do this year, considering she was champion last year."Trainer Ben Cecil also sent out San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IT) hero Passinetti for a half-mile work in :51 4/5 with Meah in the irons.
Cecil's Eclipse-winning Golden Apples , a 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal, underwent surgery in December to remove bone chips in both front ankles and spent nearly three months recuperating. She was brought back into training in mid-March and is scheduled to make her 2003 debut in the John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar in late July.
"She definitely knows what she's supposed to do out there," Cecil said. "She's right on target at the moment (and) I'm looking forward (to her return). She probably had those chips for her last three races last year and still ran so well. She's a little light, but she'll pick up the weight as she gets fitter."
Golden Apples has earned $1,621,787 from a career line of 15-6-5-2. In her championship season, the bay mare won the Beverly D Stakes (gr. IT), Yellow Ribbon Invitational Handicap and Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) (gr. IT) and also placed in the John C. Mabee/Ramona, Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) and Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT). In 2001, she won the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) and Las Palmas Handicap (gr. II) and placed in the Matriarch and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT).
Passinetti, a 7-year-old gelding, breezed for the first time since winning the about 1 ¾-mile Capistrano at Santa Anita on Easter April 20. The son of Slew o'Gold had been retired after suffering a tendon injury, but was brought back into training late last year after more than three years on the shelf. He rewarded Cecil and owner Tanaka with his first career grade I victory.
"He had three races in about four weeks, so I wanted to give him a little break," Cecil said.
Passinetti is tentatively set to make his next start in the July 20 Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) on closing day at Hollywood Park.