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Honeybee Preview: Cox Fillies Look Tough
Sun Path breaking her maiden (Credit: Coady Photography)

Honeybee Preview: Cox Fillies Look Tough

HOT SPRINGS, AR – Trainer Brad Cox’s barn sends a pair of tough-looking fillies searching for their first graded success in Saturday’s $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.

The Honeybee is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to 3-year-old fillies. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 5:10 PM.

The Honeybee is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race season awarding 50 points for the win, 20 for second, 10 for third, and 5 for fourth.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Honeybee:

1. Tabor Hall 10/1 – She steps up to the big leagues after breaking her maiden last time out in career start #6 while going gate to wire over this distance at Gulfstream Park. First of a pair from the Kenny McPeek barn, she earned a career-best 72 Beyer Speed Figure that doesn’t stack up well against this group of winners and her victory came while using race-day Lasix, which she won’t get to use here.

2. Will’s Secret 7/2 – She broke her maiden going this distance in an off-turf Fair Grounds route 2 starts back, then shipped here to win the 1-mile Martha Washington Stakes, the local prep for this race. The Dallas Stewart trainee won by 5 1/4 lengths over a muddy surface but her maiden score was on fast dirt, so she should handle whatever the weather throws her.

“She’s doing good,” Stewart said. “She’s a nice, honest filly and easy to train – just an easy keeper. Nice filly.”

3. Willful Woman 6/1 – The first of two from trainer Steve Asmussen broke her maiden last out going a muddy mile over this course in late January, clearing off by 4 1/4 lengths. A daughter of the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist, she must prove she can be just as successful without the race-day Lasix that she tried for the first time last out.

4. Sun Path 5/2 – The morning line favorite has taken the most money in her past 3 starts, winning 2 before faltering in the Silverbulletday Stakes last time out. She suffered a wide trip that day but shouldn’t have that same experience with this better draw, and Cox hits at 21% when new jockey Joe Talamo rides for the barn.

“Sun Path’s been training extremely well,” Cox said. “I have really no excuse or reason for her dull performance last time. I was kind of taken aback by that. She came out of it well. She’s breezed tremendous at the Fair Grounds.”

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5. Pauline’s Pearl 8/1 – Asmussen’s second entry broke her maiden going this distance over a sloppy Fair Grounds surface last time out and steps up to the graded stakes ranks while running without race-day Lasix for the first time. Asmussen’s top jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. is on the stablemate, but Pauline’s Pearl is the field’s only runner nominated Triple Crown.

6. Absolute Anna 15/1 – She broke her maiden on debut in a December 5 1/2-furlong Los Alamitos sprint but faltered going 6 furlongs here in the mud in late January and now stretches out for the first time. Owner/trainer Jerry Hollendorfer legs up Ramon Vazquez, who makes his debut for the barn but is winning at a strong 17% rate this meet (through Wednesday).

7. Oliviaofthedesert 7/2 – McPeek’s second entry ended 2020 on a 2-race win streak including the 1-mile Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park. Off since that December event, she fired a 5-furlong bullet best-of-31 work in :59.40 as her final warm-up for this and reunites with jockey David Cabrera, aboard for the first time in the Trapeze.

“She seems to be getting better,” McPeek said. “Just been real pleased with everything. She got a little break between races. She’s been training down here in Florida for two months.”

8. Coach 4/1 – Cox’s second representative won 3 straight to start her career before finishing third in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) last November, then returned 2 months later to finish second in the Martha Washington. She’s found success at this distance over the past, including defeating Oliviaofthedesert (third) in the Rags to Riches Stakes.

“Coach has obviously missed some training (due to the recent weather issues),” Cox said. “We’ll kind of see how things go.”

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