Wet Paint gave her many supporters some anxious moments in Saturday’s $300,000 Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park, but the 17-10 favorite made up a lot of position, and more than seven lengths, in the final two furlongs to post a decisive victory in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prep.
Last of 12 three-year-old fillies entering the clubhouse turn under Flavien Prat, Wet Paint saved ground down the backside while maintaining position near the rear of the field. Meanwhile, 21-1 longshot Condensation set a moderate pace of :23.54, :48.19, and 1:13.51 over the sloppy going. With Condensation hanging tough entering the stretch, Wet Paint was still lagging well behind in 10th.
“At the quarter pole I didn’t like what I saw,” trainer Brad Cox said of Wet Paint.
However, it didn’t take long for Wet Paint to get into gear. Commencing her rally while hugging the rail, Wet Paint soon shifted into the two path, spurt between rivals to take aim at Condensation, and then drove past inside that tiring rival to win by a widening three lengths.
“She wears blinkers but I don’t know what they do for her because she doesn’t have much early speed. That’s just her that’s going to be her style,” Cox said. “She’s just not blessed with a lot of early speed, but she’s got a great closing kick.”
A homebred racing for Godolphin, Wet Paint covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.35 and paid $5.40. Condensation finished second, three parts of a length ahead of Grand Love, while Gambling Girl edged Towhead for fourth by a nose.
The order of finish was rounded out by Defining Purpose, Take Charge Briana, Olivia Twist, Taxed, Effortlesslyelgant, Boss Lady Bailey, and Doudoudoywanadance.
The Honeybee victory by Wet Paint followed a two-length score in Jan. 28 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn, and the 50 Oaks qualifying points on offer Saturday boosted the filly’s total to 70. Condensation earned 20 points, while Grand Love boosted her total from three points to 18. Gambling Girl’s Oaks tally increased from 11 to 21, while Towhead earned her initial five points.
Wet Paint has now won three of five starts, all over wet dirt tracks. In her two losses, Wet Paint went unplaced over the turf at Kentucky Downs on debut and later finished second in an entry-level allowance over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Turfway Park.
Bred in Kentucky, Wet Paint is by Blame and out of the Grade 3-placed Sky Painter, a daughter of Street Cry and the multiple Grade 2-winning Skylighter.
In the $150,000 Carousel S. for fillies and mares, Yuugiri wore down pacesetter Pretty Birdie approaching the eighth pole and drew off to win the six-furlong dash by 3 1/2 lengths under Ricardo Santana Jr.
Racing in close attendance on the inside of Pretty Birdie through the opening quarter-mile, Yuugiri was taken back a bit by Santana around the far turn, switched to a position outside that rival and targeted her successfully in upper stretch.
“They went a (half-mile) in :44 and he decided to take her back a little bit,” trainer Rodolphe Brisset said. “He gave her a breather and she re-engaged.”
The 3-2 favorite in a field of six, Yuugiri returned $5 after completing the course in 1:10.17. Yuugiri races for owner-breeder Sekie Yoshihara and Tsunbumi Yoshihara and is trained by Rodolphe Brisset.
A four-year-old daughter of Shackleford, Yuugiri has now won four of eight starts. Although the winner of the Fantasy (G3) over 1 1/16 miles last season, Yuugiri will stick to one-turn races for the foreseeable future. Brisset said her next major target would be the Madison (G1) at Keeneland over seven furlongs on April 8.