Mexican Champion Letruska Under The Radar In Apple Blossom Showdown

Clearly, the stars of the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (Grade 1) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles Saturday at Oaklawn are Eclipse Award winners Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver.

As for the small supporting cast, the most accomplished of the four other entrants is Letruska for trainer Fausto Gutierrez and breeder/owner St. George Stable LLC (German Larrea Mota-Velasco).

A champion in Mexico for her Mexican connections, the speedy Letruska has won 12 of 17 lifetime starts, including the $125,000 Shuvee (G3) Aug. 30 at Saratoga and the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) Jan. 31 at Sam Houston. In her return to Oaklawn, Letruksa finished second, beaten a head by Shedaresthedevil, in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 13. The Azeri is the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom.

“I know it’s a tough race, but this is the perfect spot to try,” Gutierrez said after Letruksa’s half-mile bullet workout Sunday morning at Oaklawn. “We don’t have anything to lose. Any of these horses have to run their best race to win. Of course, Letruska, but Swiss Skydiver needs her best effort and Monomoy, too.”

Letruksa won her first seven career starts, including six at Hipodromo De Las Americas in Mexico City. The streak was highlighted by blowouts in two legs of Mexico’s Triple Crown for 3-year-old fillies in 2019 – Clasico Esmeralda (G1) and Clasico Diamante (G1) – when Letruksa was named the country’s divisional champion.

“Why not three? Because one is just for Mexican-breds,” Gutierrez said.

Larrea Mota-Velasco, a copper mining mogul, bred Letruksa in Kentucky. The 5-year-old mare is by 2010 Kentucky Derby winner and Arkansas Derby runner-up Super Saver.

In addition to the Shuvee and Houston Ladies Classic, Letruksa’s resume includes a front-running romp against males in her American debut, the restricted $85,000 Copa Invitacional del Caribe Stakes, in December 2019 at Gulfstream Park, an allowance victory last April at Oaklawn and a victory in the $100,000 Rampart Stakes (G3) Dec. 12 at Gulfstream Park. Letruska normally goes straight to the front in her races.

Letruska won her six starts in Mexico by a combined 40 ½ lengths and joined select company, Gutierrez said, with her American success.

Gutierrez said Mazatleca is the only other horse to begin its career in Mexico and win a graded stakes race in the United States. The Mexican-bred Mazatleca captured the $50,000 Red Bank Handicap (G3) in 1986 at Monmouth Park before going on to a distinguished broodmare career. Mazatleca is the dam of Grade 1 winner Wild Escapade and Grade 2 winner Mazel Trick.

But no horse that started its racing career in Mexico, Gutierrez said, has won a Grade 1 race in the United States. Letruksa, in her Grade 1 debut in the United States, finished fifth in the $300,000 Ballerina last August at Saratoga.

“This is the big gap,” Gutierrez said. “Maybe the horses that run in Mexico, in the Triple Crown, run here for a claiming price or for $12,000 (allowance purse). It’s another planet. There’s no comparison. It’s absolutely another planet. It’s not like Argentina or Brazil or maybe Chile – to the level it’s very good.”

Letruksa nearly grabbed her signature American victory in the Azeri, falling just short of catching 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil after, unexpectedly, coming from off the pace in the 1 1/16 mile race.

“That was not the plan,” Gutierrez said.

Letruksa switches from Joel Rosario to three-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. for the Apple Blossom. Letruksa is scheduled to break from post 3 Saturday. Swiss Skydiver drew post 2, Monomoy Girl post 6 in the projected six-horse field.

Instead of shipping back to her South Florida base, Letruksa remained at Oaklawn following the Azeri and recorded two works leading up the Apple Blossom. She covered a half-mile in :48.80 April 4 and zipped a half-mile in :47.20 last weekend, galloping out 5 furlongs in :59.40.

“She’s a very sound filly,” Gutierrez said. “I think 5 years old is the perfect age for her.”

Letruska, a seven-time stakes winner, has career earnings of $557,319.

The Apple Blossom headlines Saturday’s 12-race card, with probable post time 6:09 p.m. (Central). It is the 11th race. First post Saturday is 12:02 p.m.

The projected Apple Blossom field from the rail out: Another Broad, Ricardo Santana Jr. to ride, 115 pounds; Swiss Skydiver, Robby Albarado, 122; Letruska, Irad Ortiz Jr., 118; Chance to Shine, Ken Tohill, 114; Getridofwhatailesu, Francisco Arrieta, 117; and Monomoy Girl, Florent Geroux, 124.

The infield, weather permitting, will be open Saturday.

The post Mexican Champion Letruska Under The Radar In Apple Blossom Showdown appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.