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Rose to Gold seeks redemption in Honeybee
Rose to Gold was sent off the even-money favorite in the February 9 Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park, but found herself passed in the stretch by 19-1 shot Sister Ginger, who would pull off the 2 3/4-length upset victory for trainer Steve Asmussen. On Saturday, those two fillies meet once again and Rose to Gold will try to turn the tables on her rival in the Grade 3, $150,000 Honeybee at the Hot Springs, Arkansas, oval.
Rose to Gold romped in her first two starts last fall at Calder, capturing her racing debut in the Lindsay Frolic by 13 lengths prior to a 13 1/2-length domination of the Brave Raj. The Friends Lake filly didn't take to the synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland in her next start, winding up 12th in the Grade 1 Alcibiades, but bounded back into form with a half-length victory in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess to close out her juvenile campaign.
The chestnut miss was heavily favored to continue her winning ways in the Martha Washington, and took over the lead from Sister Ginger in the stretch of the one-mile contest, but her rival battled back to earn her first win since breaking her maiden at Remington Park in October.
Rose to Gold has recorded just one official work since then, going a half-mile in :50 over the track on March 2, and trainer Sal Santoro has tabbed jockey Calvin Borel to be aboard for the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee.
Sister Ginger was sent off at 19-1 in the Martha Washington after being beaten by double-digit lengths in an optional claimer going 1 1/16 miles over a good track at Oaklawn on January 11. Prior to that, the Student Council miss missed by only a nose in the Mistletoe and was second in the La Senorita, both at Remington Park.
The bay filly had previously always used a rallying run, so her pacesetting tactics last out could herald a new beginning for the Kentucky-bred. Ricardo Santana Jr. had the call for the first time in the Martha Washington and retains the mount on Saturday.
Also entered back in the nine-strong Honeybee from the Martha Washington are Broken Spell, American Sugar and Liberty Girl, the respective third, fourth and fifth-place finishers from that race.
While Rose to Gold and Sister Ginger face-off in the Honeybee, Flashy Gray could end up stealing the show.
The Bill Mott pupil was bet down to favoritism in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager last weekend despite never having faced stakes rivals or a distance farther than seven furlongs. She'll get the chance to vindicate her status as an early favorite for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, and earn much-needed points to get into the race, in the Honeybee.
Flashy Gray missed in her initial outing by a head when debuting at Keeneland last October, but returned to romp by 10 1/4 lengths in maiden at Churchill Downs on November 8. The gray daughter of Flashy Bull was transferred from the shedrow of Lon Wiggins to Mott following that stellar effort and scored a first win for her new trainer when taking a Gulfstream Park optional claimer by 4 3/4 lengths on February 10.
Flashy Gray will make her stakes bow in the Honeybee with Mike Smith taking over riding duties.
Completing the field are Flash Forward, a nice optional claiming winner going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream on January 3; Awesome Mama, who is unbeaten in two starts thus far; and dual state-bred stakes winner Sittin at the Bar.
Two races following the Honeybee, a field of 10 older runners will line up in the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Handicap going 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn. Atigun is seeking a return to the winner's circle following a pair of placings in the Breeders' Cup Marathon at Santa Anita last November and an optional claimer over course and distance in his four-year-old bow on February 14.
To get the job done, the bay son of Istan will have to overcome, among others, Donoharm and San Pablo, the respective top two from the February 2 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn, as well as Alternation, the defending champion of the Razorback.