2023 Honeybee Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview
The Kentucky Oaks trail returns to Hot Springs, Arkansas, on Saturday, February 25, with the Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park! The race covers 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, and it drew a field of 12 to compete for a $300,000 purse and 50-20-15-10-5 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points for its top five finishers. This means that the winner is almost certain to get a spot in the Kentucky Oaks!
The race is open to three-year-old fillies and drew some of the most promising in the class. The top five finishers in the Martha Washington all return for this next step down the trail: Wet Paint, Taxed, Defining Purpose, Take Charge Briana, and Olivia Twist. Add in other contenders like Grand Love, who makes her first start since the Breeders’ Cup, and you have an exciting betting race ahead!
This race has produced the Kentucky Oaks winner in two of the last three years: Shedaresthedevil (2020) and Secret Oath (2022), and both went on to win the lilies! With other top-class winners such as Round Pond (2005), Eight Belles (2008), and On Fire Baby (2012), the Honeybee is always a race to watch closely!
Honeybee Stakes 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, February 25, 2023
Post Time: 4:43 p.m. Central Standard Time
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Age/Sex: 3-year-old fillies
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Honeybee Stakes Odds
This is the official field for the 2023 Honeybee Stakes. Twelve horses entered the Honeybee this year; they are arranged here by post position with trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds as well:
|1||Effortlesslyelgant||Norm Casse||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||20-1|
|2||Towhead||Mike Maker||Isaac Castillo||9-2|
|3||Grand Love||Steve Asmussen||Joel Rosario||3-1|
|4||Gambling Girl||Todd Pletcher||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||12-1|
|5||Condensation||Chris Hartman||Francisco Arrieta||12-1|
|6||Take Charge Briana||D. Wayne Lukas||Mickaelle Michel||20-1|
|7||Wet Paint||Brad Cox||Flavien Prat||7-2|
|8||Defining Purpose||Ken McPeek||David Cabrera||9-2|
|9||Boss Lady Bailey||John Ortiz||Florent Geroux||12-1|
|10||Doudoudouwanadance||Dallas Stewart||James Graham||20-1|
|11||Olivia Twist||Todd Fincher||Cristian Torres||15-1|
|12||Taxed||Randy Morse||Rafael Bejarano||15-1|
Honeybee Stakes Prep Results
Five of the twelve runners in the Honeybee all come out of the same race: the previous race on Oaklawn’s spur of the Kentucky Derby trail, the Martha Washington. Wet Paint won that race by two lengths over a chasing Taxed, with Defining Purpose three quarters of a length back in third. Take Charge Briana and Olivia Twist followed them home, though both need a serious step forward this time around.
Only one runner comes out of a graded stakes: Grand Love most recently finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Gambling Girl last finished second in the Busanda, an Oaks prep at Aqueduct, while Doudoudouwanadance most recently finished eighth behind Olivia Twist in the Trapeze at Remington Park.
The other four entrants came out of non-stakes company. Towhead most recently won an allowance on January 20 over the same course and distance as the Honeybee, a race in which Boss Lady Bailey finished 3 1/4 lengths second. Condensation won a muddy dirt mile allowance at Oaklawn on February 11 by 3/4 length. Finally, Effortlesslyelgant comes out of a maiden special weight win at Oaklawn on January 29; she wired a six-furlong sprint in the mud, and faces winners for the first time in the Honeybee.
Honeybee Stakes Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Honeybee Stakes, organized by post position:
1) Effortlesslyelgant: With two starts, the least experienced horse in the field, she graduated over a muddy Oaklawn course last month, a positive sign with the wet forecast. However, she has never faced winners and never tried two turns. Her pedigree suggests she may handle it, though she also has to overcome a deep inside post in a big field.
2) Towhead: With nine starts, one of the more experienced in the field, she has hit a nice stride with wins in her last two starts. She came close in a stakes on the turf last year at Kentucky Downs, suggesting she has quality, and her tactical speed gives her a chance to work a trip. She also has good off-track form in two wet dirt starts.
3) Grand Love: She might be the class of the field, having last raced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. However, she hasn’t raced since that November 4 outing, so it is hard to tell how she trained on from ages two to three. She also won’t have it easy on the lead and needs to prove herself at two turns: she broke her maiden in a sprint, but has been significantly beaten in both her route tries.
4) Gambling Girl: Both of her wins have come going seven furlongs in New York-bred company. However, she acquitted herself well, finishing underneath in both the Demoiselle (G2) and the Busanda, and now turns back half a furlong from those races. Both of those races were also over off tracks, a positive suggestion for how she will handle conditions in the Honeybee, and she has proven she can pass horses.
5) Condensation: She has won four of her six races, and even though some of those came in claimers and starters she won a muddy allowance race at Oaklawn last out. However, she is yet another speed horse in a race laden with them, meaning she is not going to have an easy time while facing the classiest horses she has ever seen.
6) Take Charge Briana: She impressed in her seven-furlong maiden-breaker at Saratoga last year, stumbling early but still running on for the win. However, she has not won since then, and she has been well beaten in all of her two-turn starts. Her pedigree does suggest she may ultimately want two turns, as she is by Curlin from a half to Take Charge Brandi, but she has yet to show it.
7) Wet Paint: She made 3-1 look like a bargain in the Martha Washington, settled at the rear of a short field and running clear to win by two lengths. She could get a similar trip this time around, especially with a likely faster pace to close into. Both of her victories have come over off-tracks, but with an off-track likely for this race as well, she should be right at home for connections who click well, Brad Cox and Flavien Prat.
8) Defining Purpose: She won the Year’s End Stakes at Oaklawn on December 31, stalking the pace and opening up to romp. However, she was outfinished in the Martha Washington after being closer to the pace. Perhaps settling a bit further off the pace would help her this time around, though also the Martha Washington was her only off-track try, and she was less potent. With rain in the forecast, that is a concern.
9) Boss Lady Bailey: She broke her maiden by a neck on debut at Ellis going one turn, but has yet to be as sharp going two turns. It is also not a good sign that her only sloppy-track try was a well-beaten ninth in an allowance at Churchill Downs. She did pick things up to be second in an Oaklawn allowance last out, but will now have to handle tougher horses and a likely rain-affected track again over a route trip.
10) Doudoudouwanadance: She stalked the pace and won by open lengths over fellow Oklahoma-breds in her first three starts, but stopped and ran last when trying open company in the Trapeze last out. She has moved barns since then and gotten about two months to rest since then. However, she still has to deal with a far outside post and even classier company.
11) Olivia Twist: Like Doudouwanadance, she also has done most of her racing at Remington, but she has three open-company wins there. The good news is that she has shown a modicum of tactical speed. The bad news is, she is also mired to the far outside, and she was unable to keep pace late in the Martha Washington with four of the foes she must deal with again in this.
12) Taxed: Though she needed to drop in for a tag to break her maiden, she ran her best race yet in the Martha Washington, second off the $50,000 claim. She stalked the pace and chased on for second behind Wet Paint, taking a good step forward compared to her flat fourth behind Defining Purpose in the Year’s End. The far-outside post is not a good sign, but that more tactical style of last out at least gives her some upside at a price.
Honeybee Stakes Past Winners Past Performances
The Martha Washington Stakes has been the key prep for recent editions of the Honeybee. Out of the last ten winners of the Honeybee, six have come out of the Martha Washington. The last two winners of this race, Will’s Secret (2021) and Secret Oath (2022), both won that local prep. Four others finished in the money: Rose to Gold (2013), Euphrosyne (2014), and Sarah Sis (2015) were all second in the Martha Washington, while Cosmic Burst (2018) was third.
The four other winners in the last ten years all came out of allowance company, though three of those four winners who came from allowances were already stakes-placed. It Tiz Well (2017) came out of an allowance win at Santa Anita but was already graded-placed; Chocolate Kisses (2019) came out of a Fair Grounds allowance win but placed in listed company before that. Shedaresthedevil (2020), second in an allowance at Oaklawn before winning the Honeybee, was also already graded-stakes placed. Terra Promessa (2016) came out of an allowance win at Oaklawn and won her stakes debut in the Honeybee.
Honeybee Stakes Undercard
The Honeybee Stakes is the 10th of 12 races on Oaklawn’s Saturday card. The headline race on the card is the Rebel (G2), a $1 million race that is a 50-point prep race for the Kentucky Derby. Also included on the card is the Carousel, a race for three-year-old sprint horses.
With three-year-old action and big fields all day long, Saturday is an excellent day to bet Oaklawn. Stay tuned to FanDuel TV all day for the latest news and live footage of the races, and make sure to wager on the card through FanDuel and TVG!
Oaklawn Park History
Back in 1905, the Hot Springs Mayor declared a half-day holiday for the opening of Oaklawn Park, with over 3,000 people attending the track on its first day of racing. The holiday heralded the beginning of a tradition that has lasted for over a century!
Due to political issues, no racing took place at Oaklawn between 1907 and 1916 but after a sustained period of action, the now-famous Arkansas Derby was inaugurated in 1936 with a purse of $5,000 offered to entrants.
By 1952 Oaklawn could boast daily attendances of almost 8,000 people and an average daily handle of well over $400,000, figures which rose by the turn of the decade to 10,000 and $500,000, respectively, with the Arkansas Derby purse increasing to $50,000 by 1965.
The track continued to go from strength to strength, and during a 50-day meeting in 1970 an average of 11,000 people were attending daily, with over $43,000,000 wagered over the course of the meet.
In the mid-70s, Oaklawn gave birth to the Racing Festival of the South, with pari-mutuel wagering amounting to a cool $80,000,000 that season, and by the 80s, over a quarter of a million people were attending the festival each year. By then, the purse for the Arkansas Derby was up at $500,000, and a new single-day attendance record was set with 71,000 showing up to see Rampage win the big race in 1986.
Ten years later, Arkansas Derby day saw a total handle of over $10.5 million, and by the turn of the millennium, Oaklawn was still seeing increases in attendance and wagering, meaning the track stands as one of the best in the country at present.
Honeybee Stakes FAQ
Q: When is the Honeybee Stakes?
A: The 2023 Honeybee Stakes will be run Saturday, February 25, at 4:43 p.m. Central Standard Time. The race is the 10th of 12 on the Oaklawn card.
Q: Where is the Honeybee Stakes?
A: It takes place at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Honeybee Stakes?
A: D. Wayne Lukas has trained the most Honeybee winners, with six; his first was Lost Kitty, the race’s very first winner in 1988, while his most recent was Secret Oath in 2022. Lukas aims to extend that record in 2023 with Take Charge Briana.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Honeybee Stakes?
A: The morning-line favorite for the Honeybee is Grand Love, making her first start since a troubled sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. However, it would be no surprise if Martha Washington winner Wet Paint (7-2 on the morning line) instead goes off the favorite, and given the recent record of Martha Washington winners in this race that money would deserve respect.
Q: Who is the best Honeybee Stakes jockey?
A: Jockey Donald Pettinger has won the most editions of the Honeybee: he won three straight from 2002 through 2004. Among jockeys who are riding in the 2023 edition, Ricardo Santana, Jr. leads with two wins. He rides rail-drawn Effortlesslyelgant this year for trainer Norm Casse.
Q: Who won the 2022 Honeybee Stakes?
A: Secret Oath won the 2022 Honeybee Stakes for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Luis Contreras. Lukas sends out Take Charge Briana this year, though Contreras does not ride in the race.
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