Mike Luzzi rides Spun Sugar to sweet win in Saturday's Apple Blossom.

Mike Luzzi rides Spun Sugar to sweet win in Saturday's Apple Blossom.

Jeff Coady

Sweet Victory for Spun Sugar in Apple Blossom

Stronach Stables homebred Spun Sugar gamely held off Happy Ticket in a stretch duel to win Saturday's $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) before 29,841 at Oaklawn Park.

Getting a good jump out of the gate under Mike Luzzi, Spun Sugar was overtaken by Star Parade briefly before regaining the advantage after three-quarters of a mile was completed in 1:11.97. As Star Parade began to fade when the field turned into the stretch, Spun Sugar was then engaged by Happy Ticket but held her off to win by a neck. The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:42.59.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Spun Sugar paid $8.60, $4 and $3.20, with Happy Ticket returning $3.00 and $2.20. La Reason, sent off a 44-1 odds, was 6 1/2 lengths back in third, paying $5.20.

The victory was the fifth in nine lifetime starts for Spun Sugar, who has placed in her four other outings. The 4-year-old daughter of Awesome Again --Irish Cherry (by Irish Open) won last year's Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II), while finishing second in the Mother Goose and Alabama and third in the CCA Oaks, all grade I races in New York.

This marked the third Festival victory for defending two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who watched the race on television from Aqueduct, where he earlier saddled the odds-on Keyed Entry to a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial.

Pletcher's two previous Festival winners were Graeme Hall and Balto Star, back-to-back winners of the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) in 2000 and 2001.

(Chart, Equibase)