Two Defect From Apple Blossom Field

The connections of Caressing and Atelier have opted to skip Saturday's $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I), part of a double-header with the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. I) in Oaklawn Park's Racing Festival of the South.

Trainer David Vance made the decision to skip the Apple Blossom in favor of Friday's $75,000 Bayakoa Stakes, also at Oaklawn on opening day of the Racing Festival of the South, Tuesday morning following the 2000 Juvenile Fillies Champion half-mile breeze, which was timed at :50.

"Why throw my filly to the wolves," Vance said. "The filly (Ask Me No Secrets) who beat me six lengths the other day (Oaklawn Park Breeders' Cup), is passing the Apple Blossom so it doesn't make much sense for me to run."

Atelier was scheduled to ship to Oaklawn on Wednesday, but trainer Shug McGaughey was dissatisfied with the filly's last work.

In another Apple Blossom development, jockey Garrett Gomez was given the mount on the James Chapman-trained Verruma.

The Apple Blossom is scheduled for the 11th race with a 4:54 p.m. (CST) post. The Oaklawn Handicap will be run as the eighth race at 4:30 p.m.

The prospective field for the Apple Blossom looks like: Affluent (Eddie Delahoussaye, 118); Miss Linda (Richard Migliore, 118); Azeri (Mike Smith, 117); Fleet Renee (John Velazquez, 117); Spain (Pat Day, 117); and Verruma (Gomez, 113).