by Dick Powell
There are two races this weekend that are part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series of points races, offering 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four finishers toward a berth in the May 3 Run for the Lilies at Churchill Downs – the $250,000 Busher Stakes at Aqueduct going a one-turn mile and $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) sending runners 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park.
A third points contest, the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks, is also part of the Championship portion of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, but will only award 20-8-4-2 points to the top four. The one-mile affair takes place over Turfway Park’s Polytrack on Saturday.
The Busher has an approximate post time of 5:40 p.m. (ET), the Bourbonette Oaks comes next at 5:51 p.m. and the Honeybee rounds out the trio at 6:04 p.m.
The Busher attracted a field of 12 for the mad scramble down the backside. Two of the better horses drew outside and they and their riders will determine how the race will be run.
Please Flatter Me is undefeated in three career starts, easily winning going five, six and seven furlongs. Now she will attempt eight furlongs and could be the controlling speed with Alex Cintron. Two outside of her in the far outside post is Orra Moor, an easy winner of two sprints who now moves up in class and distance for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Johnny Velazquez.
The only graded winner in the field is Oxy Lady, who won the Tempted Stakes (G3) last November over track and distance.
The Honeybee Stakes drew a field of 10 and there are three stakes winners in the group.
Sunset Wish won the Take Charge Brandi Stakes at Delta Downs two back, Power Gal captured the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn going a mile on February 2 and Raintree Starlet prevailed in Oaklawn’s Dixie Belle Stakes going six furlongs and now stretches out in distance.
Marathon Queen is a dangerous filly from the Steve Asmussen barn. Breaking her maiden easily going six furlongs at Fair Grounds, she then was a good second in the Martha Washington after pressing the pace every step of the way. Asmussen likes to get his horses involved in the early pace and has the perfect rider to do it with Ricardo Santana Jr. piloting the filly.
The Bourbonette Oaks features 12 fillies, including Birdie, who broke her maiden by eight lengths last out over track and distance. Abel Lezcano rides the Birdstone lass for trainer Jose Fernandez.
Into Trouble proved best in the Arlington-Washington Lassie over Arlington Park’s synthetic track last year and will attempt to rebound off a pair of subpar efforts on the dirt for trainer Ben Colebrook. Rafael Mojica Jr. has the call.
Channel Princess, another track and distance maiden winner, and Malibu Party, third in Turfway’s Cincinnati Trophy Stakes last out, are also entered in the Bourbonette Oaks. Perry Ouzts takes over the mount on Channel Princess for trainer Michael Ewing while John McKee will be in Malibu Party’s saddle for the first time for trainer Tracey Young.