On Oct. 23, the 4-year-old filly April Run, the heavy favorite for today's 31st running of the Washington, D.C. International at Laurel, ran away from a top field in the Turf Classic at Aqueduct.
Among those left in her wake was Naskra's Breeze, a horse many experts considered to be among the top three grass horses in the country. So authoritative was April Run's move that after she won the Classic by six lengths trainer Phil Johnson said, "I'm not taking Naskra's Breeze to Maryland and only hope for second again. That filly is too much."
Last year April Run should have won the International over Providential II, but her jockey, Phillippe Paquet, dropped his whip somewhere in the race and they lost by a length. Today, April Run will be ridden by the clever Cash Asmussen.
The chief competition to April Run will come from Awaasif, the 3-year-old filly who finished third in the Arc de Triomphe, a head before April Run and less than a length behind the winner, Akiyda.
Yesterday, jockey Willie Carson said of his mount, "April Run had five-eighths of a mile to catch us in the Arc and couldn't do it. Why should it be any different in the International?"
April Run has shown that she comes to her best form in the late fall. Asmussen says that April Run is sharper now than she was in Europe and that he had experienced traffic problems in the Arc. Other horses with a reasonable chance are England's Diamond Shoal and Royal Roberto.
Sprink and Pair Of Deuces should battle for the early lead with April Run and Awaasif stalking them. In the final quarter the two fillies, led by April Run, should draw away and finish one-two. Diamond Shoal should hold off the late run of Royal Roberto for the show spot.