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Adare Manor Routs Foes in Apple Blossom

Bob Baffert-trained mare ships east and takes the prize in gate-to-wire fashion.

Coady Photo/Andrew Stauffacher

When Bob Baffert ships into Hot Springs, he means business. Two weeks after taking down the gem of the Oaklawn Park meet with Muth in the Arkansas Derby (G1), the trainer added the track's second coveted prize to his 2024 tally when Adare Manor strolled to a front-running victory in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 13.

Adare Manor, a mammoth-sized mare with a coat the color of freshly roasted coffee beans, was making only her third venture in 16 career starts outside of California. Her other two attempts resulted in second- and sixth-place finishes in the 2022 George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) and Cotillion Stakes (G1), respectively. Adare Manor, however, now a 5-year-old, was more than capable of finding the winner's circle this time.

Bettors signaled their confidence in the Michael Lund Petersen-owned filly as she stepped up to the starting gate as the 3-5 choice Saturday afternoon in a field that included grade 1 winner and 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1) favorite Wet Paint. Blasting from the 4 hole under jockey Juan Hernandez, who had journeyed to Arkansas to ride Adare Manor, the pair quickly showed their Oaklawn rivals that California speed would reign supreme in the $1.25 million test for older females.

Hernandez kept Adare Manor on a loose rein as she paved the way through splits of :23.68, :46.95, and 1:11.14. With no challengers in sight at the quarter pole, Adare Manor powered to the wire, relishing the extra sixteenth of a mile that she didn't get when running second last time out in the March 9 Beholder Mile Stakes (G1).

With Wet Paint lacking her trademark late rally, it was left to fellow West Coast shipper Flying Connection to give chase. Although making only the slightest dent in Adare Manor's 5 1/2-length advantage, the Todd Fincher trainee ran the race of her life to get up for second over 58-1 longshot Free Like a Girl.

"(Adare Manor) felt very good and very strong (today)," Hernandez said after the race. "I think last time she probably needed the race since she coming off a couple months layoff (the Beholder Mile was the first outing for Adare Manor since her seventh-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Distaff) but today Bob Baffert and (assistant) Jimmy (Barnes) brought her ready. They had a lot of confidence in her. She was ready to win this race."

Returning $3.40 for a $2 win ticket, Adare Manor raced the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.48 on a fast main track. The $675,000 winner's share of the purse boosted her career bankroll to $1,736,600.

Godolphin's Wet Paint failed to make an impact in her first start since the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), finishing sixth of nine.

Bred by Town & Country Horse Farms and Gary Broad, Adare Manor is the sole winner from two foals to race out of the graded stakes-winning Brooklynsway (Giant Gizmo). Bloodstock agent Donato Lanni signed the ticket on the filly for $375,000 on behalf of Petersen at the 2021 Ocala Breeders' June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Adare Manor is the first graded stakes winner of 2024 for Ashford Stud stallion Uncle Mo . The son of Indian Charlie, and sire of 100 stakes winners worldwide, had three grade1 -winning offspring in 2023. Adare Manor was one of those three, scoring in the 2023 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. Uncle Mo stands the 2024 breeding season for a fee of $150,000.