MOTT-TRAINED ELATE FAVORED IN HONEYBEE
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 9, 2017) – Lightly raced Elate is the 5-2 program favorite for the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn. Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m.
The Honeybee offers 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5) toward starting eligibility for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 5 at Churchill Downs. The race is also the final major local prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 14.
Elate, who races for her breeders, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, will be making her third career start in the Honeybee. A daughter of Oaklawn stakes winners Medaglia d’Oro and Cheery, Elate broke her maiden by 12 ½ lengths Nov. 26 at Aqueduct before finishing second to Tapa Tapa Tapa in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes Feb. 11 at Tampa Bay Downs in her only other start.
“She wasn’t exactly cranked up for it (Suncoast),” said Riley Mott, traveling assistant for his father, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “Our ultimate goal is to get her to the Oaks starting gate. It’s a very long season, so it was more or less just a tightener.”
Elate is scheduled to break from post 2 under Jose Lezcano and carry 115 pounds. Mott said he will saddle Elate for his father, who winters in south Florida.
Completing the projected Honeybee field from the rail out: Chanel’s Legacy, Alex Birzer to ride, 122 pounds, 8-1 on the morning line; Someday Soon, Walter De La Cruz, 119, 12-1; My Sweet Stella, Ramon Vazquez, 115, 12-1; Perfect Wife, Corey Lanerie, 119, 8-1; It Tiz Well, Corey Nakatani, 117, 3-1; Tapa Tapa Tapa, Jesus Castanon, 117, 6-1; Ever So Clever, Luis Contreras, 117, 12-1; Tap of War, Calvin Borel, 115, 20-1; Lovely Bernadette, Alex Canchari, 119, 15-1; and Benner Island, Geovanni Franco, 117, 15-1. If the field remains intact, it will match the largest in the Honeybee's 30-year history.
Chanel’s Legacy won the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 11 and stretched out to win $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes at a mile Feb. 11 for trainer Lynn Chleborad and owner/breeder Allen Poindexter.
“You’ve got to keep stepping up to see where you’re at,” Chleborad said. “She hasn’t done anything wrong so far. She’s doing very well.”
Chleborad said she would have preferred posts “3-7,” but added the rail is better than breaking from an outside spot at 1 1/16 miles.
Chanel’s Legacy has never raced over an off track, but she relishes the mud, Chleborad said, noting a chance of rain Saturday.
“She really just likes to run, but she loves the mud,” Chleborad said. “Loves it.”
My Sweet Stella finished second to Chanel’s Legacy in the Dixie Belle and Martha Washington for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who won the first four runnings of the Honeybee (1988-1991). Lukas said My Sweet Stella had an excuse in her 2 ½-length loss in the Martha Washington after having to steady near the quarter-pole. The filly switches to Vazquez, Oaklawn’s leading rider, for the Honeybee.
“I think if we wouldn’t have got stopped, we had a great chance to win it,” Lukas said of the Martha Washington. “You’ve still got to go out there and do it. Everybody has an excuse. Having said that, I thought we had a real good opportunity to win that.”
Tapa Tapa Tapa, who will represent the first Oaklawn starter for trainer Tim Hamm, was a front-running three-length winner of the Suncoast in her first start on dirt. The gray daughter of Tapit made her first five career starts on grass or a synthetic surface.
“We kind of always thought she would be a little more dirt-suited,” Hamm said. “Just circumstances led us to put her on synthetic and turf.”
Hamm vanned Tapa Tapa Tapa to Oaklawn rather than remain home and run in the $200,000 Florida Oaks Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
“This one is very simple,” Hamm said. “They made the Florida Oaks turf about three years ago and we wanted to stay on the dirt.”
It Tiz Well ships in from Southern California for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The daughter of Arch ran second, beaten 7 ½ lengths, by heralded stablemate Unique Bella, in the $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) Jan. 8 at Santa Anita and will be racing around two turns for the first time in the Honeybee.
Benner Island will be adding blinkers for trainer Brad Cox.