Rose to Gold put away heavily favored Flashy Gray in the stretch for a gate-to-wire triumph under Calvin Borel in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) March 9 at Oaklawn Park (VIDEO).
The veteran rider Borel, who posted his 5,000th career victory March 7 at Oaklawn, took 5-1 shot Rose to Gold directly to the front along the inside in the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies, where she dictated the tempo. The daughter of Friends Lake withstood a challenge from 2-5 choice Flashy Gray late on the far turn and proved best in the homestretch. She drew clear late for a 2 3/4-length victory in a time of 1:45.06 on a fast track.
"We had planned on sitting right off the pace, but she broke so sharp," said Borel after victory number 5,001. "She has a lot of wind. She took it to them. That other one (Flashy Gray) is a nice filly. I had seen her races. Mike (Smith) tried to come to me at the three-eighths pole, but my filly pulled away. I knew we would be double tough. She came home strong."
Sal Santoro trains the modestly bred Rose to Gold for owners Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti. A $1,400 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling buy in February 2011, the chestnut filly was bred in Kentucky by the family of Joe Mulholland Sr. out of the unraced Tabasco Cat mare Saucy.
Winner of the Delta Downs Princess (gr. III) in her final start as a 2-year-old Nov. 17, Rose to Gold has now banked $477,889 after her fourth victory from six races.
She earned 50 points in the standings for the a start in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 3 if the $1 million race is oversubscribed. She now has 64 points, tying her with 2-year-old juvenile champion Beholder atop the standings.
Rose to Gold was making her second start of the year following a runner-up effort in Oaklawn's one-mile Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 9. She pressed Sister Ginger on the lead that day, putting her head in front in the stretch before weakening late to be defeated by 2 3/4 lengths.
Sister Ginger was thrashing about in the gate prior to the start of the Honeybee and had to be backed out and checked for injury before being allowed back in the gate.
Flashy Gray, a $775,000 addition to trainer Bill Mott's stable this season after her purchase at the Keeneland November sale, got all the attention in her stakes debut for West Point Thoroughbreds. The daughter of Flashy Bull was made the 6-1 favorite in the recent Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.
But Rose to Gold got the jump out of the gate and went to the rail as Flashy Gray and Sister Ginger fell into a stalking position. Rose to Gold opened up by a couple of lengths on Flashy Gray while carving unhurried quarter mile fractions of :23.71, :47.76, and 1:13.18.
Flashy Gray increased the pressure rounding the far turn, pulling to within a half-length approaching the quarter pole. But Rose to Gold shook clear again in the stretch to lead by 2 1/2 lengths at the furlong mark, and she finished up well under steady handling from Borel.
Flashy Gray, ridden by Mike Smith, was 10 1/4 lengths clear of the show horse, American Sugar and Alex Birzer. Then came Liberty Girl, Sittin At the Bar, Broken Spell, Sister Ginger, and Flash Forward.
Rose to Gold carried 119 pounds and paid $12.60, $3.40, $2.80. She topped a $30 exacta with Flashy Gray, who returned $2.20 and $2.10 in her first start around two turns. American Sugar paid $5.80.