By Valerie Grash, Foolish Pleasure
With no Larry Jones or Todd Pletcher trainees entered, something’s amiss in this year’s Honeybee. Oh, and the fact that trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owner Willis Horton have sportingly decided to send defending Eclipse champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi against the boys in next weekend’s Grade 2 Rebel. Good for them! However, that leaves us with a relatively wide-open race and plenty of contenders. Let’s break down the field by post position:
#1 Desert Valley
(Desert Party, out of Capote mare Atlas Valley) Karl Broberg/Scott Spieth
A maiden claiming winner last out, there’s just too many variables—a new trainer, a new jockey, zero previous success at a route distance, and first time over this track. Pass.
(Harlan’s Holiday, out of Tapit mare Tamboz) Wayne Catalano/Shaun Bridgmohan
Extremely well-bred, this filly’s dam is a full-sister to BC Dirt Mile winner Tapizar. She’ll be tested beyond 7 furlongs for the first time, but her workouts are strong and it’s hard to ignore a top jockey and a top trainer. Love the late speed, although traffic may be a problem breaking from an inside post.
#3 Super Saks
(Sky Mesa, out of Unbridled’s Song mare Broadway Debut) D. Wayne Lukas/Terry Thompson
You gotta love D. Wayne’s perseverance! This filly’s form last year makes her look like a real head case, yet she didn’t embarrass herself against tougher first-out this year in the Dixie Belle, and then she cruised to an 11-length maiden win last out. Since then, he’s worked her long, once going a mile and twice at 5-furlongs, including a sharp bullet work most recently. She’s a worthy longshot flyer play.
#4 Bootsy’s Girl
(Summer Bird, out of Forest Camp mare Poplar Girl) Kellyn Gorder/Channing Hill
She comes out of the same race as Pangburn (see below), and was closing nearly as well. Plus, she’s already won at this distance. Beautiful stamina pedigree with her third dam a Grade 2 runner-up at 12 furlongs, this filly could very well upset this race.
(Congrats, out of Yes It’s True mare It’s True Love) Ken McPeek/Jesus Castanon
Next to Sarah Sis’ brilliant late-close against Take Charge Brandi last out, this filly put on probably the second-most impressive finish, barreling from dead-last around the final turn to win emphatically over this 1-1/16 miles distance over this track. Hot trainer paired with a veteran jockey...my top choice.
#6 Indian Annie
(Indian Charlie, out of Silver Deputy mare Grosse Pointe Anne) Steve Asmussen /Ricardo Santana, Jr.
The one thing going for this filly is her breeding—her dam is a half-sister to Eclipse champion juvenile male Uncle Mo. Other than that, her last effort was disappointing, fading to finish 8 lengths behind Take Charge Brandi and Sarah Sis in the Martha Washington. Not convinced she reverses form here.
(Bluegrass Cat, out of Hussonet mare French Kiss) Gary Hartlage/Joe Johnson
A maiden winner (finally!) after making six starts, this homebred filly’s dam is a half-sister to previous Honeybee winner On Fire Baby. It’s a class, not stamina, issue that’s the question mark about her—she ran poorly against some very good company last year. Another issue: she hasn’t run that fast. After taking her off Lasix for the first time, she broke her maiden. A sign of turning a corner?
#8 Sarah Sis
(Sharp Humor, out of Gilded Time mare Emerald Gal) Ingrid Mason/Julio Felix
It’s hard to ignore that impressive late-closing finish in the Martha Washington, coming within a head of defeating Eclipse champion Take Charge Brandi. Her back form is strong as well, having defeated recent Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra runner-up Lovely Maria in an allowance race at Keeneland last fall. Third-up off a break, she should be ready to fire.
#9 Promise Me Silver
(Silver City, out of Macho Uno mare Uno Mas Promesa) Bret Calhoun/MC Berry
Undefeated in six starts (three of those restricted to Texas state-bred company), this filly has never raced beyond 7 furlongs and she just beat Sarah Sis by a neck in the Dixie Belle. Even with a win over this track, the distance combined with the far outside post position does her in.
Exotics: Bootsy’s Girl, Sarah Sis, Oceanwave
Longshot flyer(s): Purr, Super Saks