Apostle's Long-Awaited Comeback Under Way at Laurel

Apostle's Long-Awaited Comeback Under Way at Laurel

Grade 3-Placed 6-Year-Old in Russell Barn

LAUREL, MD – Approaching 2 ½ years since he last ran, and after several stops and starts, the road to get the well-bred and once highly regarded Apostle back to the races is winding through Maryland.

Now 6, Apostle has breezed three times over Laurel Park’s main track as part of the comeback process. He went three furlongs in 39 seconds March 14 – his first timed work since Oct. 26, 2019 – and again in 37.80 March 30. He had a four-furlong move in 50 seconds April 6.

Apostle is by Medaglia d’Oro, a multiple Grade 1 winner of more than $5.7 million in purse earnings who has carried that success to the breeding shed, and the grandson and great-grandson of Hall of Famers A.P. Indy and 1977 Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew, respectively.

Purchased for $900,000 as a 2-year-old in training in March 2017 by Midwest-based Karl and Cathi Glassman, Apostle raced exclusively as a 3-year-old winning two of six starts spread out from early January to mid-December 2018, all in South Florida for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.

“He did look like he was well-meant early on and then had some bad luck,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “I got him as a 6-year-old after he had some issues, but he’s pretty cool.”

Apostle was a 1 ½-length maiden special weight winner in August 2018 at Gulfstream Park, his third career start and first in more than six months. He stepped up again in his first time facing winners, defeating Belle Tapisserie – an 11-time career winner including three in a row at Laurel for trainer Kieron Magee – in an October 2018 optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West.

In his next start, Apostle got a taste of the turf when he ran a troubled fifth in the Showing Up Stakes, also at Gulfstream West, then returned to the dirt and was third in Gulfstream’s Harlan’s Holiday (G3), a length behind favored runner-up Audible, the 2018 Holy Bull (G3) and Florida Derby (G1) winner who was third in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

“He had some minor issues that they gave him some time for. Then they started him back in training and some other things flared up so they gave him some more time,” Russell said. “It was unfortunately like a vicious cycle of give him time for something, get him back going, [and need to] give him time for something else.”

Russell has been working with Apostle for more than two months, after he arrived from noted horseman Dr. Barry Eisaman’s farm in Ocala, Fla.

“This last round, Barry drilled on him a little bit more down there to make sure he was going to hold up before he sent him to the racetrack. He called me and he said, ‘I have a project for you, but I think he’s pretty useful,’” Russell said. “We’re just trying to take our time and get him fit now.

“The first month I had him, it was tough. With the winter racetracks I didn’t do a whole lot with him. He was just sort of galloping on the good days,” she added. “But, now that the weather seems to be breaking, he’s been on a fairly consistent work schedule.”

From the moment the horse arrived in her barn, Russell has been impressed with Apostle’s appearance and disposition.

“He looks amazing. When you see him on the racetrack, you’re like, ‘Woah. Who’s that?’ He’s just a standout. If he wants to be good, we’ll see,” Russell said. “He’s a big, heavy horse and I think he knows he’s good. He has this air about him.

“He’s going to have to overcome a lot, being 6 and having all this time off but it’s actually kind of cool,” she added. “He’s pretty forward training in the morning. He’s an OK work horse. He probably needs some company when he starts to get a little more serious, but he’s just a really classy animal. If we can keep him healthy, I think we can have some fun with him.”

There is even a previous connection between trainer and horse through Apostle’s mare, Apt, whose many quality runners include Grade 3-winning millionaire Carve, third in the 2013 Arkansas Derby (G1) and sixth in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for Russell’s former boss, Brad Cox.

“Actually, that was the first horse that I went to Breeders’ Cup with,” she said. “When they called me about taking this horse I looked him up and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ This mare, she’s a legend. She just produces racehorses. It’s pretty cool.”

Through all the ups and downs, the Glassmans have maintained their ownership and optimism that Apostle can be the kind of horse they first imagined four years after buying him.

“They’ve been wonderful. They’re patient. They are so patient. However long it takes to get him ready, if we get him back they’ll be delighted,” Russell said. “That goes a long way. That makes me think that we can be successful with him, because there’s no pressure.”

NOTES: Racing resumes Saturday, April 17 at Laurel Park due to the adjusted schedule announced earlier this week…Jockey Jorge Ruiz ended the week with consecutive victories in Sunday’s seventh and eighth races. He won aboard Dixie Drawl ($6.20) in Race 7 and Dinosaur Ben ($5.20) in Race 8…