March 12, 2011
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, March 12, 2011) – Great weather and two Grade 3 stakes races led to a packed house Saturday as a crowd of 24,111, the largest of the meet so far, turned out to watch Fox Hill Farms’ 3-year-old filly Joyful Victory win the $125,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) and Maggie Moss’ It Happened Again win his third straight at Oaklawn Park in the $125,000 Razorback Stakes (G3) for older male horses.
In the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee it was Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who had not been back to Hot Springs since winning the 2010 Apple Blossom (G1) with Horse of the Year Zenyatta, quickly reacquainting himself with the winner’s circle after piloting Joyful Victory to a 8 3/4-length triumph.
Joyful Victory, who was the fourth straight Honeybee winner for trainer Larry Jones or his wife Cindy, was the 6-5 favorite of the huge crowd while making her seasonal debut and wearing blinkers for the first time. She assumed the lead after six furlongs in 1:11 1/5 and was never tested from there. Holy Heaven, the Martha Washington Stakes-winner, rallied for second and Dixie City, winner of the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct in Nov. was third. The winning time was 1:44 4/5 over a fast track.
“It set up almost too good to tell you the truth,” said Smith who has won seven of his last nine starts at Oaklawn. “I knew I was going to have to hit the front too soon. (Trainer) Mr. (Larry) Jones told me he put the blinkers on because when’s she by herself she’s liable to do something. He told me to stay aware of that and of course I hit the front pretty early. I hit her twice just to make sure, but she was home by then.”
The daughter of Tapit out of the mare, Wild Lucy Black, improved her record to 4-2-0-1 and has now earned $200,100. She returned $5.00, $3.40 and $2.60.
The Razorback was supposed to be a rematch between Fifth Season Stakes-winner Win Willy and Essex Handicap-winner Kate’s Main Man with a coming out party for 9-5 favorite Winslow Homer thrown in, but no one told trainer Steve Asmussen as It Happened Again assumed command at the top of the stretch and held off his stablemate Thiskyhasnolimit by a half-length. Win Willy, the 121 lb. high weight, put in his typical late run for third. Winslow Homer finished sixth in the field of seven.
It Happened Again was claimed by trainer Steve Asmussen for $20,000 on Oct. 9, 2010 at Woodbine on behalf of Moss and has blossomed for his new connections at Oaklawn. The Razorback was his third straight victory. The Proud Citizen gelding returned $9.40, $5.20 and $3.60.
Live racing resumes at Oaklawn on Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.