The one mile, one turn race on the good main track was restricted to Maryland-breds. Piloted by jockey Oliver Castillo, Apple Special ominously tracked dueling pacesetters to the far turn, made a wide circle around the bend, and charged up to throw down a challenge to Malibu Kid. Apple Special, finding that extra kick, scooted away to score by 2 3/4 lengths. Malibu Kid held on for second, and Regal Solo made a belated rally to take third. Smooth It Over, the 3-1 betting choice, finished fifth. The plucky son of Outflanker completed the distance in 1:39.20.
Apple Special, trained by John J. Robb, finished fourth in the Maryland Million Nursery. The bay colt has three wins and two seconds at Laurel from eight starts.
“He always breaks sharp and he just dragged me around there,” said Castillo. “I had a perfect trip and a ton of horse. Jerry had him perfect coming into the race. In the post parade I even told Mario (Mario Pino, who rode the runner-up) I could tell he was going to be tough.”
Apple Special, bred by Will Farish and Gasparilla Stable LLC, won an allowance/optional claiming race on Nov. 15 at Laurel. Robb is confident that his trainee still has an abundance of developing talent.
“He’s definitely on the improve and let’s hope he keeps improving,” Robb said.
The stakes-placed winner Apple Juice, by Pleasant Tap, is the dam of Apple Special. He is the first winner for his dam. The third dam of Apple Special is the Argentine group I winner Bambina Linda, by Liloy, who is the dam of grade II winner Labamta Babe.
--Mary R. Marshall