HOT SPRINGS, AR – Debby Oxley’s Chocolate Kisses came flying hard along the rail in deep stretch to deliver a deadly sting to her foes en route to winning Saturday’s Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from post 5 under Orlando Mojica at 7/1 odds, Chocolate Kisses unorthodoxly took back, rather than stalk closely, and settled at the rear while the even-money favorite Motion Emotion posted quick opening fractions of :22.46, :45.99, and 1:11.46. Making a five-wide run through the far turn, Chocolate Kisses hit the top of the stretch under a full head of steam and began reeling in the pacesetter, whose blazing early speed began to take its toll in the final furlong. Dipping to the inside as Motion Emotion slightly stumble-bunnied outward, Chocolate Kisses shot past in the shadow of the wire before crossing with a 1-length advantage. The Mark Casse trainee’s score came in a final time of 1:45.78 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“I know we had a lot of speed in there,” Mojica said. “My plan was to break and stay third or fourth, but that didn’t work. I tried to keep her outside because I knew she’d be running. I didn’t want to get a lot of dirt in her face. I knew I had plenty of horse at the 3/8 pole. She finished good.”
Though unable to hold off the late-running winner, Motion Emotion continued to fight strongly and hold second by 1 1/2 lengths over Bizwhacks. The rest of the field was much farther behind, with Sunset Wish taking fourth, Perfect Reins necking out Ultimate Mo for fifth, and Power Gal finishing a disappointing seventh after having won the Martha Washington Stakes here last out. Raintree Starlet, Best Kept Secret, and Marathon Queen (who was eased off of the far turn) completed the order of finish.
The Honeybee is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Chocolate Kisses earned 50 points for the win, with Motion Emotion receiving 20 for second, Bizwhacks 10 for third, and Sunset Wish 5 for fourth.
Chocolate Kisses’ win was her second straight following an allowance score over the Fair Grounds turf on January 18 and improved her overall record to 7-3-1-1. The 3-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, purchased for $400,000 as a yearling, increased her earnings to $232,950.
“She had things go perfect,” trainer Mark Casse said from Tampa Bay Downs, where he saddled several runners on the Tampa Bay Derby Festival card. “It set up. They ran fast, but she got in a little trouble early, and then she made a big wide move and she just kept going. I was proud of her. It was nice.”
Chocolate Kisses returned $17 to win, $6 to place, and $4 to show. Motion Emotion brought back $3 to place and $2.60 to show, while Bizwhacks paid $5 to show.