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Dixie City, Joyful Victory return in Honeybee
Nine will line-up on Saturday for the $125,000 Honeybee S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, the final local prep for that track's April 10 Fantasy S. (G2), and the 1 1/16-mile test features the return of Demoiselle S. (G2) heroine DIXIE CITY (Dixie Union) and Frizette S. (G1) third JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit).
Neither filly has been seen in competition since November, with Dixie City closing out her juvenile campaign with a front-running, 3 1/4-length victory in the Demoiselle. That followed a troubled trip in her stakes bow, the Tempted S. (G3), where she rallied three wide rounding the turn before finding herself carried out in the stretch. Dixie City still managed to take third in the Tempted, and trainer Tony Dutrow sent the bay lass out for a bullet half-mile move in :47 4/5 on March 1 to prepare for her return. Jeremy Rose has the call aboard the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
Joyful Victory broke her maiden in her first career outing, ran third in the Frizette, then equated herself well when fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last out. A former stablemate of Dixie City, the gray miss will be making her first start for new trainer Larry Jones in this spot and gets blinkers added to help her chances. Joyful Victory also posted a recent bullet move over the track, getting five furlongs in :58 4/5 on Monday, and will have Mike Smith in the saddle for the first time.
Dixie City and Joyful Victory will be facing a number of fillies who have already been competing successfully this year. Jones actually saddles another major contender in the form of SUMMER SOIREE (War Front), who dominated an allowance field by 9 3/4 lengths while going the Honeybee distance on January 30. Another nice winner, the Benard Chatters-trained HOLY HEAVENS (Holy Bull), enters this race off a one-length score in the Martha Washington S. most recently.
RIGOLETTA (Concerto), the 5-2 morning line favorite for the race, will be trying a conventional dirt surface for the first time here after triumphing in her maiden and the Oak Leaf S. (G1) last season on the synthetics in California. The Dan Hendricks pupil opened her sophomore campaign with a fifth-place run in the grassy La Habra S. (G3) in late February and gets Michael Baze, third in the local jockey standings, in the irons.
"We laid her up after she got a tiny splint problem," Hendricks explained Friday morning. "All the dirt races for her (in California) gear up for the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), and she wasn't able to make that, but she's worked really well on the dirt and I wanted to give her a chance in a race like this. She was a little aggressive coming back on the grass and she didn't have the kind of spurt that a good turf horse would have, but I think she got a lot out of it. Now we just see how she handles this surface."