- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

HOT SPRINGS, ARK. (AP) - It’s a Bird flew away nearing the stretch Saturday to win the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

In the track’s other race for older horses Saturday, Seventh Street stayed ahead of the pack to win the $500,000 purse in Oaklawn’s annual 1 1-16-mile Apple Blossom run.

With jockey Julien Leparoux aboard, It’s a Bird kept pace with leading horse Jonesboro for most of the 1 1-8 mile race for 4-year-olds and older. Just before the stretch, the horse rallied, pulling 2 1/2 lengths in front of a fading Jonesboro.

By that point, the six other horses in the race had no chance to catch up, as It’s a Bird crossed the finish line at 1:48.96 _ six lengths in front of the competition.

Runforthedoe, which remained in sixth for much of the race, surged into a second-place finish, nosing just ahead of Jonesboro.

“Things went as we hoped at the start and I was soon laying just off the pace and pleased with that,” Leparoux said. “When we made the lead, he just drew out.”

It’s a Bird’s trainer, Marty Wolfson, said the track helped his horse’s run.

“He ran a really, really strong race,” Wolfson said. “We wanted to be on the lead or close to the lead, and Julien did a good job of that.”

It’s a Bird paid $6, $3.60 and $3. Runforthedoe paid $5.40 and $4.60 while Jonesboro paid $5.

In the Apple Blossom, Seventh Street came out of the gate in first place and never looked back, coming in with a 5 3/4-length lead into the finish line at 1:43.13. Superior Storm came in an easy second, with Acoma just edging out French Kiss for third in the race for fillies and mares 4 years and older.

“She sprinted home. Even though this race was 1 1/16 miles, she had the stamina, then speed to sprint home,” trainer Rajiv Maragh said of Seventh Street. “It was just like she re-broke at the quarter pole, then sprinted to the wire.”

Seventh Street paid $6, $5.40 and $2.20. Superior Storm paid $6.40 and $2.40, while Acoma paid $2.20.

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