Champion Golden Apples, winning the Yellow Ribbon last year.

Champion Golden Apples, winning the Yellow Ribbon last year.

Benoit photo

Golden Apples to Make 2003 Debut in Mabee

Trainer Ben Cecil reported that Gary Tanaka's champion Golden Apples is set to make her 2003 debut in Saturday's John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar. The Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal received a 122-pound impost for Saturday's 1 1/8-mile turf event, one less than high weight and likely favorite Tates Creek.

The race was formerly known as the Ramona Handicap.

Golden Apples underwent surgery to remove chips from both ankles late last year and only returned to Cecil's care at the end of March. She has not raced since a runner-up finish in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park on December 1.

"I think it's a good weight," Cecil said. "They're really good down here (at Del Mar) with the weights and probably gave her consideration for the layoff. She carried 120 last year and got beat, but she's a different horse this year."

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has the call on Irish-bred Golden Apples in the Mabee, his first time aboard the 5-year-old bay mare. Patrick Valenzuela was originally set to ride, but opted to pilot the Bobby Frankel-trained Tates Creek, who is riding a four-race win streak, instead.

"I think Gary will suit her fine," Cecil said. "So it all worked out well."

Golden Apples had her final Mabee workout on Monday, logging five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 over Del Mar's firm turf course.

Others expected for the $400,000 Mabee include Dublino, Megahertz and Magic Mission.