G3 Winner Apple Picker Seeks Rebound in $100,000 Skipat

G3 Winner Apple Picker Seeks Rebound in $100,000 Skipat

Among Nine Stakes Worth $3.3 Million on Preakness (G1) Card

LAUREL, MD – Already a graded-stakes winner that also owns a victory over the track, Michael Dubb’s Apple Picker will attempt to put both together when she returns to historic Pimlico Race Course for Saturday’s $100,000 Skipat.

The six-furlong Skipat for fillies and mares 3 and up is among nine stakes, five graded, worth $3.3 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program anchored by the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. First race post time is 10:30 a.m. EST.

Apple Picker has been first or second in six of 13 career starts with four wins, the biggest coming in the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 17 at Laurel, her 4-year-old debut. It was also her second stakes win, the first coming last fall in the six-furlong Weather Vane, her only prior start at Pimlico.

In her only start since the Fritchie, Apple Picker stayed at seven furlongs for the April 6 Distaff (G3) at Aqueduct, where she wound up fourth for Brittany Russell, Maryland’s leading trainer of 2023.

“She’s great. She won the Fritchie, she had a great setup that day. We took another swing and sent her up to New York. Tough spot, on the road, it wasn’t her day,” Russell said. “She didn’t run as well as we would have liked,e but she’s done well since she came back home. She’s run well at Pimlico, as well, so I think it’s a good spot to bring her back home. Hopefully there’s some sort of setup for her because she’s the kind of horse that likes to sit and make a run going short.”

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Disco Ebo ran fourth behind Apple Picker in the Fritchie but rebounded with a front-running two-length triumph in the six-furlong Primonetta April 13 at Laurel, her most recent start. The 5-year-old mare, based at Parx with trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr., has won 11 of 22 career races including four stakes.

“She ran a really bang-up race last time. Sheldon Russell did a great job riding her. When you put her at the right distance against the right group, she’s a very tough filly. She gives her all every single time. We’re going to give her a shot,” Reid said. “I think she’s actually a little better than she was early on. She’s had a little bit of minor issues, foot issues, her whole career so we’ve kind of had to work around that, but she’s doing really fantastically well right now.”

Joseph Englehart’s Sweet Shild O Mine made her Maryland debut in the one-mile Heavenly Cause April 13 at Laurel, setting the pace before tiring to be fourth behind Intrepid Dream. The Mineshaft filly was a 20-length maiden winner last May at Belterra Park, where she also ran second in her stakes debut the following month. Prior to coming to Laurel, she romped by 5 ¼ lengths in an open six-furlong allowance at Fair Grounds.

“She’s doing well,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “We took her over to Laurel last time and tried to run her the one-turn mile. She was in front and backed up, so she showed us she’s a true sprinter. She’s been really, really effective at three-quarters, and if we can get the race she ran at Fair Grounds, she could be really tough.”

Completing the field are Anonymously, third in the Primonetta; Late Frost, third in the Weather Vane and Charles Town Oaks (G3) last year; Royal Poppy and Swall.