‘Very Impressive’ Ce Ce Ships To Oaklawn For Apple Blossom

The $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares has attracted a strong contender for prominent California breeder/owner Bo Hirsch in lightly raced Ce Ce.

Trained by Mike McCarthy, Ce Ce is unbeaten in two starts this year, including a 3 ¼-length score over Grade 1 winner Hard Not to Love in the $400,000 Beholder Mile (G1) March 14 at Santa Anita. She was a 4 ¼-length allowance winner of her 4-year-old debut Feb. 17 at Santa Anita.

Ce Ce is by Elusive Quality – sire of 2004 Arkansas Derby winner Smarty Jones – out of Hirsch’s blue hen mare Miss Houdini, the dam of 2009 Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem. Papa Clem, also campaigned by Hirsch, ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby and retired a multiple graded stakes winner of $1,121,190. Papa Clem is by Smart Strike.

“Plenty of pedigree,” McCarthy said Tuesday afternoon. “Bo Hirsch is a longtime breeder, so he’s cultivated that family. This is kind of, obviously, an extension of that, going back through Miss Houdini and back on through these mares that have been in either his father’s racing stable, broodmare band, or his.”

Ce Ce will be making just her sixth career start in Oaklawn’s Apple Blossom, a 1 1/16-event that is among the country’s signature two-turn events for older fillies and mares. Ce Ce didn’t race at 2 and was a 2 ¼-length winner of her April 12, 2019, career debut at Santa Anita. After finishing second in a first-level allowance race, McCarthy thought enough of Ce Ce to send her to New York for the $700,000 Acorn Stakes (G1) last June at Belmont Park. After finishing fourth in the Acorn, Ce Ce didn’t run again last year because of an injury. She has returned with sparkling victories at 6 ½ furlongs and a mile this year.

“Her comeback race, I thought she would run well,” McCarthy said. “She actually ran a little bit better than I thought she would, first time back. I gave her every excuse out of that race to tell me she did not want to run in the Beholder and she just kept on getting better and better with every work leading up to that race, so I had no hesitation of running her in that spot. She beat a very nice filly in Hard Not to Love. The way she did it, I thought was very impressive. Certainly, second race back off a layoff, to win a Grade 1, kind of tells you a lot about her.”

Overall, Ce Ce has a 3-1-0 mark from five starts and earnings of $366,600.

The Southern California-based McCarthy has started only two horses at Oaklawn, both in 2018. He saddled City of Light to win the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses, handing eventual champion older dirt male Accelerate his only 2018 loss. City of Light went on to win the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in 2018 and concluded his career with a victory in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) in January 2019 at Gulfstream Park.

The post ‘Very Impressive’ Ce Ce Ships To Oaklawn For Apple Blossom appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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