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Dixie City in the Demoiselle.
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Dixie City Gets Her Year Started in Honeybee

Last year's Demoiselle winner faces eight 3-year-old fillies, including Rigoletta.

Dixie City makes her first start since winning Aqueduct's Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) last November as one of the favorites in the $125,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 12.

Racing for the estate of the late Edward P. Evans, the Virginia homebred daughter of Dixie Union--City Sister, by Carson City, faces eight 3-year-old filly opponents in the Honeybee. The race is Oaklawn's major stakes prep for the $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) April 10. Among Dixie City's main rivals is Southern California shipper Rigoletta, winner of Oak Tree's Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) last fall.

The 1 1/16-mile Honeybee shares top billing on the Oaklawn card with the $125,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) for older horses. The Honeybee is the seventh race on the program with a 4:03 p.m. CST post.

Trainer Tony Dutrow says Dixie City, who won three of five starts at northeastern tracks with two thirds as a 2-year-old, could not be doing better as she approaches her 2011 debut at Oaklawn. Dixie City blistered a third straight half-mile workout March 8, clocking in at :47 3/5. The bay filly has been based at the Hot Springs, Ark. track since nailing the Demoiselle by 3 1/4 lengths Nov. 27.

"I'm really happy with her," said Dutrow, who tabbed Jeremy Rose to ride Dixie City for the first time. "We are starting off the year with a grade II winner, with a sound filly and with a filly that has shown a lot of talent so far and great energy at Oaklawn. You can't help but be excited."

This year's 3-year-old filly scene seems wide open, but Dutrow has not been paying attention, and that's by design.

"I'm easily intimidated," said Dutrow. "My philosophy has been to rely on my own instincts and concentrate on what I'm doing with my horses."

Rigoletta, a Florida-bred daughter of Concerto owned by Thor-Bred Stable and trained by Dan Hendricks, won the Oak Leaf Oct. 3 by a half-length over Tell a Kelly at odds of 32-1. She missed the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with a popped splint, Hendricks said recently, but returned with a fifth-place run down the Santa Anita hillside turf course in the 6 1/2-furlong La Habra Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 21.

Hendricks said Rigoletta got a lot out of her first turf effort and is ready to get down to business in the Honeybee. If all goes well, he hopes to run her in both the Fantasy and the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 6. Michael Baze rides Rigoletta for the first time.

Larry Jones entered two in the Honeybee. Joyful Victory, a Tapit  filly owned by Richard Porter's Fox Hill Farm, ran third in last year's Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She will wear blinkers for her first start since finishing fifth in the BC Juvenile Fillies Nov. 5. Summer Soiree, a daughter of War Front  owned by Wahoo Partners and Brereton and Bret Jones, is coming off a 9 3/4-length romp in a second-level allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Jan. 30.

Craig B. Singer's Gulfstream Park shipper Salty Strike also should get support. The Ken McPeek-trained daughter of Smart Strike ran second as the favorite in a first-level allowance going one mile Feb. 17. That was her first start since finishing third by a half-length behind Just Louise as the odds-on choice in the Debutante Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs last June.

Holy Heavens won the one-mile Martha Washington Stakes over a good track at Oaklawn in a 6-1 surprise for trainer Benard Chatters Feb. 12. Jazzin' Okie, one of two in the field for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, was third in that race. Von Hemel also has Hearts On Fire, coming off a two-length allowance win at the Honeybee distance over the track Feb. 27.

$125,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III, Race 7, 4:03 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Salty Strike (KY), C H Borel, 115, K G McPeek
2. Rigoletta (FL), M C Baze, 119, D L Hendricks
3. Joyful Victory (ON), M E Smith, 115, J L Jones
4. Holy Heavens (FL), I Ocampo, 122, B Chatters
5. Dixie City (VA), J Rose, 119, A W Dutrow
6. Norma's Dream (KY), J Radosevich, 115, T Q McCauley
7. Summer Soiree (KY), G Saez, 117, J L Jones
8. Jazzin' Okie (OK), M C Berry, 117, D K Von Hemel
9. Hearts On Fire (KY), A Birzer, 117, D K Von Hemel
Blinkers On: Joyful Victory