May 26, 2024

Letruska’s speed too much for Apple Blossom foes

Letruska wins the Apple Blossom Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Seizing control at the break, champion Letruska led wire-to-wire to earn her second consecutive victory in Saturday’s $1 million Apple Blossom H. (G1). The classy six-year-old mare joined the likes of Hall of Famers Azeri, Paseana, and Zenyatta by recording multiple wins in the prestigious Oaklawn feature.

Jose Ortiz was up on for owner/breeder St. George Stables and trainer Fausto Gutierrez, and Letruska completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:42.22 as the odds-on favorite.

A nose winner over Monomoy Girl last year, Letruska didn’t have to endure the same drama this time, sprinting clear to lead through fractions in :23.77, :47.26, and 1:11.30. Ce Ce tried to make a run at her on the far turn, but never drew even, and Clairiere began to roll into contention from off the pace in the final half-mile, but Letruska had plenty in reserve for the stretch.

“This horse is different,” Gutierrez said. “To win the Apple Blossom twice is great. This was a handicap and now we’re giving weight, you have to remember that. When we won the Apple Blossom last year, Monomoy (Girl) was giving us weight. That’s a difference this year. She ran great.”

Letruska gave her four rivals three-to-six pounds.

“I used my weapon,” Ortiz said. “I knew Clairiere would be coming late so I used my speed and I was able to hold her off. I felt my filly was in a very nice rhythm. I knew with the way she running the last eighth it would take a super horse to go by her. I knew they were there, but when I felt her switch to the left lead I felt she gave me another gear and when I looked, I saw the other filly (Clairiere) there, but I never thought they were going to go by.”

Letruska held Clairiere, winner of last year’s Cotillion (G1) and a convincing allowance scorer at Fair Grounds in her four-year-old debut, safe by 1 1/4 lengths on the wire. It was another half-length back to Ce Ce, the 2020 Apple Blossom winner and last year female champion sprinter, in third. Maracuja and Miss Imperial completed the order.

After splitting a pair of early season stakes starts in 2021, Letruska embarked on a five-race stakes-winning streak in the Apple Blossom, including tallies in the Ogden Phipps (G1), Personal Ensign (G1), and Spinster (G1), but she concluded the year with a disappointing 10th as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

Eclipse Award voters still recognized Letruska accomplishments, naming her champion older dirt female by a wide margin.

Letruska rebounded when returning from nearly a four-month layoff in the Feb. 26 Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park, romping by three lengths, and the Kentucky-bred daughter of Super Saver has now earned $2,948,529 from a 25-19-1-1 record.

She opened her racing career in Mexico, winning her first six starts and earning champion three-year-old honors, before being sent back to the United States in late 2019, and Letruska is a 12-time stakes winner stateside.