The road to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) via Oaklawn Park will be traveled by 11 3-year-old fillies March 8, all of them attempting to take a big step forward in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee Stakes (gr. III).
This prep for the April 5 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) drew mostly up-and-coming local contenders, but it is the two shippers—Please Explain and Taris—who may be the most intriguing, with Taris the 2-1 morning line favorite over Please Explain at 5-2.
Taris, a lightly raced daughter of Flatter trained by Todd Beattie, is undefeated in two starts, breaking her maiden at Aqueduct Racetrack by 11 3/4 lengths on Dec. 21 and winning the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel Park by 5 1/2 lengths on Jan. 25.
Clinton Potts, her partner for both races, will be back aboard from post 2; she is likely go for the lead and will be making her first start around two turns.
Please Explain, unlike Taris, has been two turns twice, and in fact, has made five starts at five different distances at four different racetracks for trainer Tom Proctor.
After breaking her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park, she shipped over to Tampa Bay Downs, where she scored an impressive six-length victory in the Suncoast Stakes. Drayden Van Dyke will ride the daughter of Curlin for the first time; she breaks from the rail and typically comes from off the pace.
But this is far from a two-horse race, as several of the local fillies boast enough talent to handle the two invaders.
Euphrosyne is coming off a strong second-place finish in the Martha Washington Stakes after breaking her maiden by 6 3/4 lengths at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Harlan's Holiday has never finished worse than second in four career starts. She certainly has enough early speed to test Taris, and both are in danger of setting it up for the closers if they connect in a heated battle.
Asmussen also has recent maiden winner Silk Purse for Peachtree Stable. The daughter of Elusive Quality, like many others in this field, is making her two-turn debut.
Two fillies coming off impressive maiden victories are Springsteen Road, trained by Danny Peitz, who was sharp winning at six furlongs, and Dream Spinner, who romped by 13 1/4 lengths going 1 1/16 miles in her seventh career start and first without blinkers.
Another filly with early lick coming off sprints is Sugar Shock, who breaks from the outside and could also make life miserable for the other speed fillies. Regular rider Channing Hill is back aboard for trainer Doug Anderson.
$150,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III, Race 6, approximate post 3:39 p.m. CST), 3YO fillies, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Please Explain (KY), D. Van Dyke, 117, T F Proctor, 5/2
2. Taris (KY), C.L. Potts, 117, T M Beattie, 2/1
3. Silk Purse (KY), R.A. Vazquez, 115, S M Asmussen, 20/1
4. Midnight Eclipse (KY), G W Corbett, 117, I Mason, 15/1
5. Springsteen Road (KY), D. Mello, 115, D C Peitz, 20/1
6. Euphroseyne (KY), R. Santana, Jr., 115, S M Asmussen, 10/1
7. Courageous Julie (KY), I. Ocampo, 115, D W Lukas, 20/1
8. Kiss Moon (KY), T.J. Thompson, 117, D R Vance, 15/1
9. Ireland (KY), N. Arroyo, Jr., 115, D W Lukas, 8/1
10. Dream Spinner (KY), L.S. Quinonez, 115, M Raidt, 10/1
11. Sugar Shock (KY), C. Hill, 117, D L Anderson, 6/1