Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ It Tiz Well was sent off the near 3-1 second choice in Saturday’s $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, but ran like a favorite when collaring 22-1 long shot Benner Island in the stretch and posting a one-length victory.
Jockey Corey Nakatani settled It Tiz Well in fourth behind dueling front runners Someday Soon and Tapa Tapa Tapa through opening splits of :23.06 and :47.03. Benner Island wasn’t far back and those two took over upon hitting the lane.
Benner Island managed to stick her head in front in midstretch, but It Tiz Well battled back on her inside to grab control and cross under the wire in 1:42.61 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track.
It Tiz Well paid $7.80 for the win, which was not only her first stakes victory but also awarded her 50 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Honeybee is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and offered up 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four finishers. Benner Island took home 20 points after finishing 3 3/4 lengths in front of 9-5 favorite Elate on the line.
Elate gained a measure of revenge against Tapa Tapa Tapa when sticking her neck in front on the wire to take third. The duo met up last out in the Suncoast Stake at Tampa Bay Downs, with Tapa Tapa Tapa wiring that contest by three lengths.
It was another three parts of a length back to Ever So Clever, who was followed by Chanel’s Legacy, My Sweet Stella, Someday Soon, Tap of War, Perfect Wife and Lovely Bernadette.
It Tiz Well is now 3-1-1 from five career starts and has banked $226,840 lifetime. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee dropped her initial start last October at Santa Anita Park and closed out her juvenile campaign with a 10-length victory against maiden foes on December 18.
The dark bay daughter of Arch returned three weeks later on January 8 to face stablemate and three-year-old filly division juggernaut Unique Bella in the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, where she proved best of the rest in second. It Tiz Well entered the Honeybee off a 3 3/4-length victory against allowance/optional claimers on February 3.
Bred in Kentucky by Allen and Susan Branch, It Tiz Well sold for $230,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the multiple stakes-winning Tiznow mare It Tiz, who is a half-sister to Canadian champion Solid Appeal.
Don Chatlos, assistant trainer It Tiz Well, winner
“(Trainer) Jerry (Hollendorfer) has had a lot of confidence in her obviously. He ran her against Unique Bella a couple starts back. He thought this would be a good spot to get her away from her and get her around two turns.
“We’re getting closer to the Kentucky Oaks (G1). She’s not going to find any easy spots and obviously this wasn’t. It was a good test for her. Jerry knew Corey (Nakatani) knows Oaklawn. He had good tactical filly and could set her wherever he needed to be. That was the instructions, to just get the best trip he could.”
Corey Nakatani, jockey It Tiz Well, winner
“She is a nice filly. I have always thought high of her. Thank you to Jerry (Hollendorfer) and the owners Tommy Town Thoroughbreds for giving me a chance to ride her. She is special filly and I felt the farther she went the better she would get. Unique Bella is possibly the best three-year-old in the country and these have a little ways to go to catch up to her. (It Tiz Well is) on the right path and doing the right things and I want to think Jerry one more time for giving me the opportunity.”
Brad Cox, trainer Benner Island, second
“(Owner) Mr. (John Ed) Anthony wanted to try this spot. We knew last time, that wasn’t her. I don’t know if she just needed the race off the layoff last time. It was her first time going around two turns. She caught the outside last time. She was in the 8 or 9 hole last time. Didn’t get a break today being in the 11 hole. I’m not making excuses. We were compromised a little with ground loss around both turns today. But she stepped up and ran the way she trained since we had her last spring. She’s a nice filly and we think a lot of her.”
Cox said his first thought is to “try” the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) on April 14.
Geovanni Franco, jockey Benner Island, second
“She is a very nice filly and was running her eyeballs out. We drew a tough post and she overcame the post, but I think that cost us a little bit in the race. In the end we just got out run in the stretch.”
Jose Lezcano, jockey Elate, third
“She ran well. She broke slow and that hurt us. She had to make up a lot of ground today. She is a very nice filly and is improving each race.”