Flashy Gray, the 6-1 favorite in the recent Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool, makes her stakes and two-turn debut in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) March 9 at Oaklawn Park.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Flashy Bull is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott for owners West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be aboard the gray/roan filly for the first time in the Honeybee, a 1 1/16-mile test.
She will face eight other 3-year-old fillies, including the first five finishers in last month's Martha Washington Stakes. The Honeybee, part of a graded stakes doubleheader along with the $150,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III), is the seventh race on the Saturday program with a scheduled post time of 4:09 p.m. CST. It carries 50 points for the winner—and 85 points overall—toward a possible start in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 3.
Flashy Gray was a $775,000 buy at last year's Keeneland November breeding stock sale as part of the Gainsway consignment for Dolph Morrison's dispersal. The filly has won two in a row since making her debut at Keeneland with a runner-up finish in October.
She will make her first start since a 4 3/4-length tally Feb. 10 over a first-level allowance field going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, earning a 95 Beyer speed figure for then-trainer Lon Wiggins. Flashy Gray broke her maiden by more than 10 lengths in her second start Nov. 8 at Churchill Downs.
Morrison purchased Flashy Gray for $45,000 from breeder Brereton C. Jones (Airdrie Stud, agent) at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Training for Mott at Payson Park Training Center, Flashy Gray arrived at Oaklawn March 5, two days after turning in a half-mile breeze in :49.30. She drew post 8 for her first stakes-level appearance and will carry 117 pounds, five fewer than the top-weighted Sister Ginger.
The latter filly won Oaklawn's one-mile Martha Washington Feb. 9 by 2 3/4 lengths in a front-running effort at odds of 19-1. Steve Asmussen trains the Student Council miss for Millennium Farms and Littlebrother Farm.
"We are anxious to see," said Darren Fleming, assistant to Asmussen. "This will be a good little test for her to go up against the tougher company. She's training good and doing good."
Sister Ginger, to be ridden from post 7 by Ricardo Santana Jr., has two wins and two seconds from six lifetime starts.
Among those she defeated in the Martha Washington was even-money choice Rose to Gold, who headed the pacesetter in the stretch but was out-kicked in the final furlong. Rose to Gold, a Kentucky-bred Friends Lake filly, won the Delta Downs Princess (gr. III) by half a length in her prior start Nov. 17.
Rose to Gold, trained by Sal Santoro for Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti, is a three-time stakes winner. Clavin Borel has the ride for the first time and they will break from post 3.
"Post 3 gives us some lovely options," said Santoro, who is hoping Rose to Gold can earn her way into the Oaks in the Honeybee. "She's feeling good and we get (Calvin) Borel. I'm pretty happy about that. It's pretty exciting. We are just hoping for the best."
Others coming out of the Martha Washington are Broken Spell, third for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm, and fourth-place American Sugar. The Lynn Chleborad trainee won Oaklawn's Dixe Belle Stakes previously for owner Allen Poindexter. Also joining the field is Casner Racing's Liberty Girl, who ran fifth for trainer Eoin Harty in the Martha Washington after being jostled at the start.
WinStar Farm's Awesome Mama, an Awesome Again filly, steps into stakes company for trainer Shannon Ritter following two victories to begin her career. The wins include a two-length allowance score as the favorite in an allowance at Oaklawn Jan. 27 in her most recent try.
"She's been training well," Ritter said. "It looks like we have some nice fillies around here. We're stretching out for the first time, but she's bred to go long and we just hope she can do it. It's going to be a test."
Gulfstream allowance winner Flash Forward and Louisiana-bred Sittin At the Bar, coming off a runner-up finish in a stakes at Delta Downs Feb. 2, complete the field.
$150,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III, Race 7, 4:09 p.m.), 3YO fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Flash Forward (KY), R Albarado, 117, D A Schettino
2. American Sugar (KY), A Birzer, 117, L Chleborad
3. Rose to Gold (KY), C H Borel, 119, S Santoro
4. Awesome Mama (KY), R A Vazquez, 117, S Ritter
5. Sittin At the Bar (LA), M Guidry, 117, B A Brinkman
6. Broken Spell (KY), J K Court, 115, D W Lukas
7. Sister Ginger (KY), R Santana Jr., 122, S M Asmussen
8. Flashy Gray (KY), M E Smith, 117, W I Mott
9. Liberty Girl (KY), L S Quinonez, 117, E G Harty