HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- With Gulfstream Park-based Salty Strike arriving at Oaklawn Park over the weekend and Rigoletta touching down in Arkansas late Wednesday morning from Southern California, the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee will have coast-to-coast representation Saturday.
The 1 1/16-mile race is for 3-year-old fillies, and in addition to the quality shippers, it has drawn there are some significant locals. Joyful Victory, who was fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, is set to launch her season in the Honeybee, and so is Dixie City. She came to Oaklawn following her win in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct and became a definite for the race Wednesday, trainer Tony Dutrow said.
Salty Strike will be ridden by Calvin Borel, trainer Ken McPeek said. She was third by a neck in the Grade 3 Debutante last summer at Churchill, then returned to action in a first-level allowance last month at Gulfstream and finished second. McPeek said the timing of the Honeybee is good for Salty Strike, and he also feels the surface at Oaklawn will suit the filly, who arrived in town last Saturday.
Rigoletta, winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf during the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park, was aboard a flight that also brought Thiskyhasnolimit to Oaklawn. He is set to run Saturday, as well, in the Grade 3, $125,000 Razorback Handicap.
Others expected for the Honeybee include Summer Soiree, Holy Heavens, and Jazzin' Okie.
Spacy Tracy pointing to Azeri
Spacy Tracy, who won her third consecutive race in the Grade 2 Top Flight at Aqueduct on Nov. 26, is being pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri on March 19, Dutrow said. She is one of a handful of runners the barn has targeting upcoming stakes at Oaklawn.
Jeremy Rose, who is 4 for 4 on Spacy Tracy, has the mount in the Azeri. Spacy Tracy has thrived at Oaklawn, Dutrow said, as has her stablemate, Holyfield. He won his second straight race at the track last weekend, in an allowance over a stakes-caliber field. For the effort, Holyfield earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 97. He is now being considered for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 14.
"He's come down here to Oaklawn and excelled," Dutrow said. "He is holding his weight. As a matter of fact, he's put on weight. And he's matured. He likes this racetrack, he seems to be thriving here, and we are going to step him up to a stakes race in his next start. We'll look at the Count Fleet. That will be a big step for him, but that's a possibility. He seems to be doing really good here, and we could show up in that race."
Dutrow said another recent allowance winner for the barn, Inkado, is being pointed to the $75,000 Hot Springs on March 20. The barn also has J W Blue for the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel, and Dixie City for the Honeybee. Joe Rocco Jr. has the mount on J W Blue.
Dutrow brought 20 horses to Oaklawn for the first time this season and said he would be inclined to return next meet. He also has a division of horses at Parx Racing in Philadelphia.
Arienza possible for Prima Donna
It was worth the wait with Arienza.
The 3-year-old daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri was set to debut last summer but in August came up with a small bone chip in her left front ankle. The chip was removed via arthroscopic surgery. She resumed breezing when she arrived at Oaklawn in January and put on a show here last weekend when she won her career debut over older rivals, with an 83 Beyer.
The filly, who is by Giant's Causeway, was an $800,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland in 2009 by Robert and Lowana Low. Dan Peitz, who trains Arienza, said it was gratifying to see her win first time out last Sunday, when she darted clear by 2 1/2 lengths while zipping six furlongs in 1:10.42.
"It was a good race," Peitz said. "I think she did everything we were looking for her to do. When you pay $800,000 for one, that's what you want to see. And it was fun to do it here. I know Azeri had a special following here. She won the Apple Blossom three times, and I know a lot of people wanted to see [Arienza] run just because she's out of Azeri."
Peitz said Arienza will now be considered for a start in the $75,000 Prima Donna at Oaklawn. The six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies is March 26.
"The timing is pretty good, it's about three weeks," he said. "We might try to get a little black type with her there."
In time, two turns will come into the equation for Arienza.
"Obviously, we'll be thinking about running her a little longer," Peitz said. "Somewhere we'll stretch her out. I'm not sure when we're going to do that, but I'll sit down and talk with Mr. Low and discuss some of the things that he's hoping we can do with her."