December 6, 2022

Will’s Secret looks to stay on a roll in Honeybee

Will's Secret
Will's Secret wins the Martha Washington Stakes (Coady Photography)

Will’s Secret, whose first race outside the maiden ranks resulted in a decisive score in the Jan. 30 Martha Washington S., will look to cement her position in the starting gate for the Apr. 30 Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Saturday when facing seven others in the $300,000 Honeybee S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Honeybee will offer 50 Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the winner, virtually assuring the victorious filly a slot in the nine-furlong Oaks at Churchill Downs. The second- thru fourth-place finishers will earn 20, 10, and five points, respectively.

The Dallas Stewart-trained Will’s Secret was coming off a maiden win at Fair Grounds in her fourth and final start of 2020 when sent off as an 8-1 chance in the one-mile Martha Washington. Rating a couple lengths off the pace, the Willis Horton homebred made a four-wide move into contention and dominated from there over a muddy track, winning by 5 1/4 lengths.

A love of Oaklawn might be in the genes of Will’s Secret. Her sire, champion Will Take Charge, won the Oaklawn H. (G2), Rebel (G2), and Smarty Jones S. over the Hot Springs oval during his career.

The Brad Cox-trained Coach, who finished second in the Martha Washington as the 4-5 favorite, returns for the Honeybee. The Commissioner filly had previously won the Rags to Riches S. and finished third in a salty renewal of the Golden Rod (G2) behind stablemate Travel Column and Clairiere, the latter who recently turned the tables on that rival in the Rachel Alexandra (G2).

Cox will also be represented by Sun Path, a dominating Fair Grounds allowance winner two back but only fourth in the Silverbulletday S. next time as an odds-on choice.

Trainers Steve Asmussen and Kenny McPeek also have two fillies each for the Honeybee. Pauline’s Pearl and Willful Woman were both dominating maiden winners over off tracks in their respective last starts for Asmussen, while the stakes-winning Oliviaofthedesert and Gulfstream graduate Tabor Hall figure to be longer prices for McPeek. The field is rounded out by maiden winner Absolute Anna, fifth against allowance foes last time for Jerry Hollendorfer.

The Honeybee is one of three Road to the Kentucky Oaks preps this weekend, the others being the Busher S. at Aqueduct on Saturday and the Santa Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita on Sunday.