Race 9 – Honeybee (G3):
#1 MOTU already has some graded stakes experience, an edge from her place finish last fall at Churchill Downs in the Golden Rod (G2). Conditioner Ken McPeek will ship her into Oaklawn Park making her second start of the season coming out of the Suncoast S. last month at Tampa Bay Downs. That afternoon she took a slight bobble at the start, finding early traffic before moving outside of horses and stalking wide. The winner was forwardly placed throughout and the battle was for place. Overall, she should benefit from that start and looking at OptixPLOT should find a favorable tracking trip here.
#2 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL’s allowance second three weeks ago gives her local experience that could be an edge over others in this field. This will be her second start of the cycle and since the barn change to Brad Cox. With that in mind, there could be some excuse as far as being “short” off the bench; however outside of that, she lacked any excuse in terms of trip. She had a favorable free trip tracking behind a run-off pacesetter with first run, and not much excuse for her not to win that race. There is some confidence with the step up in class and seems part of the plan with her to come into this stakes second off the layoff. She will need to continue to improve and prove that on the track to remain at this division.
#3 TURTLE TRAX will also ship into this race coming out of the Suncoast last month for Ian Wilkes. Similar to MOTU she did not have the most favorable trip racing in traffic behind and between horses from off the pace. She won that battle for place showing a bit more stamina late. Overall not much between the pair on that front though MOTU does have the edge from when they met last season at Churchill Downs.
#4 RING LEADER, another with some local experience, is already a two-time winner this meet. With that said, this will be her first start around two-turns and has that question to answer on the track. Based on her sprint races and position on OptixPLOT in Quad I, she looks to be the controlling speed and will look for that to carry her on the front end.
#5 ALTA’S AWARD is hard to fault at this point, and with the recent two solid wins (B+ OptixGRADE) deserves a shot at the graded stakes level. She comes into this race with OptixFIG on par for this race and highest last out figure. She does not have experience over this track at Oaklawn Park; however, she does have the two-turn experience to draw from as well as a trainer in Steve Asmussen that has been quite live this meet.
#6 BACK IN CHARGE (scratched) was dismissed off her 6-1 morning line, but pulled the upset under a drive to break her maiden on debut last month at Gulfstream Park. Along with the handy ride, she had a favorable pace scenario as she was able to track free from stress behind the pacesetters and get up late over one of those tiring pacesetting rivals. Certainly, she has the ability to improve as that was just her first start, but this is a tough test taking on more experienced types and in her first run at a new track as well as around two turns.
#7 FIFTYSHAYS OFGREEN will make her second start of the season and capable to improve off her third-place finish last month in the Busanda S. In that race she was used to clear from the outside post and to the lead, setting the pace which included a quick third quarter-mile fraction. She has shown some versatility in terms of running style and likely under today’s conditions to return to a tracking running style. That should be kept in mind looking at her Circle on the Plot and the ability to move forward off that recent race.
#8 RAGGEDY ANNIE, similar to RING LEADER, will make her first start around two turns coming off the recent win at this meet. While her numbers aren’t as “flashy” as her rival, she does have some overall upside, and physically does not give off any strong indications that the distance will be a problem. This will be her third start of the meet and she has been improving with each start, with some adversity in those recent Oaklawn Park races. She drew a tough post on opening day and running wide against a profile favoring the inside lanes still managed to finish second. She backed up that effort last month (Feb. 20) again slightly against the dynamics and taking a brutal beat in a tight photo at the wire. As a bit of a “wild card” she can be given a look as she does seem to be coming into this race the right way for Lukas.
#9 QUEEN BRIDGET overall looks a bit below her competition as she returns in this spot to make her first start of the year. She showed some run in her first three starts before trailing off at the end of 2019. This spot seems as fine as any to start the season, though tough to make the case as a top contender.