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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC’s It Tiz Well earned herself 50 points towards eligibility in the Kentucky Oaks and a return trip to Oaklawn for the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy Stakes on April 14 with her victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Honeybee Stakes.
Making her two-turn debut for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, It Tiz Well settled into fourth place early as Someday Soon led the field of 11 through early fractions of :23 and :47 for the first half mile. The winner, second favorite at 5-2, began to advance entering the final turn, came three wide into the stretch, and then battled gamely to prevail by one length over 22-1 longshot Benner Island in a final time of 1:42 3/5 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Elate, the 9-5 favorite, finished third.
“Jerry (Hollendorfer) has had a lot of confidence in her, obviously,” assistant trainer Don Chatlos said. “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. She’s not going to find any easy spots, and obviously, this wasn’t. It was a good test for her. Jerry knew (Jockey) Corey (Nakatani) knows Oaklawn. He had a good, tactical filly and could set her wherever he needed to be. That was the instruction, to just get the best trip he could.”
In addition to the 50 points for the winner, Benner Island received 20 points for second, Elate earned 10 for third, and Tapa Tapa Tapa, who, like Elate, had shipped in from Florida for the race, earned five for finishing fourth. Ever So Clever, Chanel’s Legacy, My Sweet Stella, Someday Soon, Tap of War, Perfect Wife, and Lovely Bernadette completed the order of finish.
The Southern California-based It Tiz Well improved her career record to three wins from five starts and has now earned $181,840. She returned $7.80, $4.80, and $3. Benner Island brought back $15.40 and $8, while Elate paid $3.40 to show.
Winning jockey Corey Nakatani aboard It Tiz Well: “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 3-year-old in the country and these have a little ways to go to catch up to her. She’s (It Tiz Well) on the right path and doing the right things, and I want to think Jerry one more time for giving me the opportunity.”
Trainer Brad Cox, second-place finisher Benner Island: “(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 Fantasy Stakes.
Jockey Geovanni Franco aboard second-place finisher Benner Island: “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 outrun in the stretch.”
Jockey Jose Lezcano aboard third-place finisher Elate: “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.”
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