Golden Apples, making her first start outside her native Ireland, stormed down the stretch to earn her first stakes win in Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT). On the firm turf course Golden Apples completed the 1 1/8-miles in 1:47.98 under Garrett Gomez. Sent off at 21-1, Golden Apples returned $44, $12.80, and $8 in helping to create a $180,094 pick six carryover into Sunday's guaranteed $1-million pick six.
Affluent led the way tracked by Voodoo Dancer, with Reine de Romance in close attendance. Voodoo Dancer edged closer to Affluent while racing outside the leader on the second turn and briefly got her head in front as they turned for home. Affluent fought back on the inside to regain the lead and edged away from the pack before Golden Apples came flying late en route to the win.
"She broke well and she placed herself well. But she seemed a little confused out there," said Gomez. "She was in and out of the race. But then I got her out and asked her and she turned it on. She gave me a turn of foot that was just dynamite. Some of these European horses adapt here and gain from racing in the States; some of them don't. I'd have to say this filly liked it. And she's still learning. This is only her fifth start. She's still figuring it out. Wait until she gets serious."
Second wagering choice Affluent finished second, a length behind the leader and one length ahead of Reine de Romance.
"My filly ran great," said Affluent's rider, Eddie Delahoussaye. "She put that other one away (favorite Voodoo Dancer), but here comes this one running outside (Golden Apples). I couldn't believe it."
13-10 favorite Voodoo Dancer came home fourth, followed by Desiraes My Candy, Live Your Dreams, Innit, and Blushing Ballerina.
"I had a great trip," said David Flores of Reine de Romance. "It was a slow pace and she wanted to go, but I kept her covered up. If I let her get out, she'd have gone way too early. With the pace so slow, I didn't think anything would be coming from the back. But the winner did. Very impressive."
Affluent returned $4.20 and $3.40 and completed the $1 exacta worth $93.90. Reine de Romance paid $4.80 to show.
Since earning her maiden win in May, Golden Apples raced in two stakes races in Ireland, with her best effort a third-place finish in the Hunston Financial Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-II) at the Curragh in late June. She raced on Lasix for the first time Saturday while making her North American debut. Golden Apples (Pivotal--Loon, by Kaldoun)
earned $180,000 for owner Gary A. Tanaka with the win, her second in five starts. She is trained by Ben Cecil and was bred by James Egan and David Hanley. (Chart, Equibase