February 24, 2024

Wet Paint among Honeybee dozen

Wet Paint wins the Martha Washington Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Two of the last three winners of the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park, Shedaresthedevil (2020) and Secret Oath (2022), went on to capture the Kentucky Oaks (G1). That fact seemingly didn’t escape the notice of those with a promising three-year-old filly in the barn as 12 were entered for Saturday’s $300,000 renewal of the 1 1/16-mile fixture.

A victory in the Honeybee is tantamount to cementing a spot in the Oaks field, with 50 qualifying points going to the winner. The second- through fifth-place finishers will receive respective points of 20-15-10-5.

Five of the six fillies that contested last month’s Martha Washington S. return for the Honeybee, with Wet Paint looking to remain perfect on dirt from three starts. The Godolphin homebred rallied from the back of the field to win the Martha Washington by two lengths, with longshot Taxed and even-money favorite Defining Purpose rounding out the top three.

Olivia Twist, who faded to fifth when suffering her first career loss in the Martha Washington, is one of several speed elements in the field. Others include Grand Love, who gets class relief after finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Another is the stakes-placed Condensation, a four-time winner for trainer Chris Hartman, who’s striking at a 34% clip at Oaklawn.

Invading from the Palm Beach Downs base of trainer Todd Pletcher is Gambling Girl, who’s earned some minor Oaks points already with a third in the Demoiselle (G2) and second in the Busanda S., both at Aqueduct, in her past two starts. Making her 10th career start in the Honeybee is Towhead, who made it two in a row with a decisive allowance win over the Honeybee track and distance on Jan. 20.

Earlier in the card, a near-capacity field of fillies and mares will dash six furlongs in the $150,000 Carousel S. Prominent among the entries is 2022 Fantasy (G2) winner Yuugiri, a Dec. 30 allowance winner in her first start since the Kentucky Oaks back in May, and the Grade 3-winning Pretty Birdie, a two-time stakes winner over the Oaklawn strip.