Nine 3-year-old fillies are entered in the 1 1/8-mile event and most of them have had a chance to get familiar with each other this spring. The Honeymoon serves as a prep for the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) on July 5.
The Irish-bred Sweeter Still held off Honeymoon rival Magical Fantasy in the one-mile Senorita at Hollywood one month ago, though she was drifting out in deep stretch as the 3-2 favorite. The diminutive daughter of Rock of Gibraltar, trained by Jeff Mullins for owners David J. Lanzman Racing Stable and Jason Wood, earned her first graded victory in the Senorita. Sweeter Still has won three of four starts in 2008.
Martin Garcia retains the mount.
In her previous start, Sweeter Still finished a nose behind the fast-closing Missit in the one-mile Providencia Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita lawn.
The Irish-bred Missit is back for the first time since the April 5 Providencia, her initial U.S. start for trainer Ben Cecil and owner Three Chimneys Racing. The Orpen miss began her career with five starts in England, where she was group II placed, and had been off for more than six months prior to the Providencia. Victor Espinoza rides once more.
The English import Magical Fantasy could give trainer Paddy Gallagher his third Honeymoon victory in four years. Magical Fantasy could follow in the footsteps of Irish-bred Three Degrees in 2005 and Valbenny last year after finishing strongly in the Senorita, her American debut.
Magical Fantasy showed her readiness for the task with a bullet five-furlong work in 1:01 1/5 on grass June 1.
"Her race the other day was good, and she worked real good," said Gallagher. "She acted like the extra distance will help."
Alex Solis has the call back on Magical Fantasy, a chestnut daughter of Diesis.
Also in the Honeymoon field is Bel Air Sizzle, who finished third in both the Senorita and Providencia for trainer Barry Abrams. The filly managed to squeeze in a pair of victories -- in a space of four days -- between the two graded races. One of those wins came via disqualification in the Melair Stakes for the California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat.
Divine Legacy and Gorgeous Goose finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Senorita.
Trainer Mike Puype hopes for better racing luck than in the Senorita, in which Gorgeous Goose encountered major traffic problems along the rail in the stretch. "Any trip would be better than the last one," he said.
Abrams also starts Lethal Heat, two-for-two on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita this spring. Lethal Heat won her third successive start in the Santa Paula Stakes (gr. III) on the synthetic surface across town March 30 before losing for the first time when third in Hollywood's Railbird (gr. III) at seven furlongs on the Cushion Track May 11.
Northern California shipper Misty Ocean is an intriguing upset possibility following her 5 1/2-length romp in the Golden Poppy on the Golden Gate Fields grass course May 18 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“We gave her a couple of sprints (on the main track at Bay Meadows) before we put her on turf, and it looks like she’s handled it well,” Hollendorfer said of the daughter of Stormy Atlantic .
$175,000 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:55 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Divine Legacy (FL), 115, Joseph Talamo
2. Misty Ocean (KY), 118, Joel Rosario
3. Sweeter Still (IRE), 121, Martin Garcia
4. Lethal Heat (CA), 117, Gerry Olguin
5. Missit (IRE), 119, Victor Espinoza
6. Gorgeous Goose (FL), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
7. Fire n' Brimstone (KY), 113, Aaron T. Gryder
8. Magical Fantasy (KY), 119, Alex O. Solis
9. Bel Air Sizzle (CA), 120, Rafael Bejarano