Stepping into a stakes race for the first time proved little challenge for Stonestreet Stables homebred Terra Promessa, as the daughter of Curlin drew off in the muddy Oaklawn Park stretch March 12 to win the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) by 6 1/2-lengths.
After finishing a close third sprinting in her career debut last fall at Keeneland, Terra Promessa is undefeated in three two-turn tries with a combined victory margin of 16 1/2 lengths.
Terra Promessa is trained by Steve Asmussen, who also saddled favorite Nickname to a runner-up finish in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. Nickname, by Scat Daddy, won last year's Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and was sent off at 4-5 odds Saturday but proved no threat to her stablemate winner.
"She's a really nice filly," said winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., who rode five winners on Saturday's nine-race card. "She always tries when she runs. I'm highly confident with this filly when she runs. She relaxed nicely and when I asked her to run, she did. I can't say enough great things about her."
In Saturday's race Terra Promessa settled into fourth place while Cosmic Evolution set the early pace with Nickname in close pursuit. The top duo maintained their positions through fractions of :23.33, :47.06 and 1:12.97 for the first six furlongs, but proved no match for the winner, who took over at the top of the stretch. The final time was 1:47.14 for 1 1/16 miles on a muddy track.
The Honeybee is a Road to the Kentucky Oaks points race, carrying a 50-20-10-5 schedule to the top four finishers for a place in the starting gate for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). In her graded stakes debut, Cosmic Evolution finished third and was followed by Dorodansa, She's a Bootsy Too, and Marquee Miss. Asmussen said he'll point Terra Promessa to the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) April 9 at Oaklawn.
"The way the races have been playing the last few days, I think her natural style played very favorably for today," Asmussen said of Terra Promessa's smooth rally from fourth. "I think Terra Promessa has benefited from being (at Oaklawn). She's come along awfully nicely."
Asmussen, of course, trained Curlin to back to back Horse of the Year titles.
"Her being a Curlin filly makes it very special for myself," Asmussen said. "Having Curlin have another graded stakes winner is very exciting."
Terra Promessa returned $8, $3.60, and $3 across the board while Nickname paid $2.60 and $2.40 for the minor awards. Cosmic Evolution returned $3.60 to show.
Terra Promessa is the first stakes winner out of two-time stakes winner Missile Bay, by Yes It's True. Missile Bay has produced six winners from as many starters, including stakes-placed Mio Me, by Eskendereya.