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Amie's Dini blazes bullet in advance of Honeybee
Martha Washington Stakes winner Amie's Dini showed she's ready for a showdown in the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee Stakes with fellow top filly On Fire Baby with a quick half-mile breeze Sunday at Oaklawn Park.
Under jockey Jon Court, the quick-footed daughter of Bandini sizzled through five furlongs in a bullet :59 2/5. As fast as the drill was, trainer Ron Moquett believes there's more in the tank.
"I'm pleased that she is happy right now," he said. "The goal was to let her do what she wanted to do today without emptying her out before the race, but as fast as she was, I'm sure she can run even faster. It's kind of a touchy deal when you want them to be fast enough and make sure you have enough fitness for the race. I think we did that, so I'm satisfied."
Amie's Dini now steps up to the 1 1/16-mile distance of Saturday's Honeybee for owners Mike Walker and Lou Sutterfield. It will the longest race of her 3-for-5 career so far but Moquett is eager test her versatility after she knocked off previously undefeated filly Now I Know in the Martha Washington.
"We knew she could show that quickness when she first started off at Churchill (last fall)," he said. "She's quick enough to put herself in a position that we want. We knew she had it in her, but we hadn't seen it at two turns. Ratability is important and we've got a filly that is somewhat ratable."
The breeze came exactly 24 hours after dual Grade 2 winner On Fire Baby fired a similar volley on the training track with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 2/5 Saturday morning for trainer Gary 'Red Dog' Hartlage.
"She's obviously the horse to beat," Moquett said of the Smoke Glacken filly. "She's a nationwide type of horse and Mr. Hartlage knows how to get one there. When you start throwing around names like Lukas and Asmussen, you know you can't take anyone lightly, but she's the obvious competition."
Another looking to spoil the chances of Amie's Dini in the Honeybee is Frank Fletcher's Grade 3 victress Rocket Twentyone. Having overcome a recent lung infection, the Indian Charlie sophomore declared herself ready for a return to stakes action in the Honeybee with a five-furlong breeze on Saturday.
Trained by Tom Howard, the winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie last summer in Chicago has been working her way back to shape after finishing a well-beaten third in the Dixie Belle Stakes in January. She was on the fence about racing in the Martha Washington last month when a respiratory infection made the decision for her team.
Her 1:00 3/5 drill in company with Admiral Rocket out of the starting gate was enough to convince Howard it's worth taking a shot in Saturday's contest.
"It was real good and I was really pleased with it," Howard said. "We lost about a week of training and anytime you get a setback like that, you probably always wish you had one more workout, but she got a good two-minute lick in before this and we are about as happy as we can be."
The Honeybee will be Rocket Twentyone's second trip around two turns since finishing a disappointing 13th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs last fall. In the Dixie Belle, she had to chase then-undefeated speedster Now I Know and wasn't able to make up any ground. With that rival now retired because of an injury and with the chance to head around two turns, the pace dynamics of the race could change, though Howard doesn't envision his charge having to make many adjustments.
"I'm assuming somebody in there will come and take over the pace," he said. "It definitely won't be us."
Also on the Honeybee list is Al & Sandra Kirkwood's Silver Hustler. She worked five furlongs while wearing blinkers Sunday morning in 1:01 4/5 for trainer Grant Forster. An impressive maiden winner in her debut in January, the gray Political Force filly looks to bounce back from a wide-trip and green performance in a 8 1/2-furlong allowance race in her most recent start. Forster says she will wear the blinkers in the race.