Race of the Week 2017
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Kentucky Oaks Runner

A Joyful Honeybee

Oaklawn Park will set the stage for the next step along the Kentucky Oaks trail this Saturday when it hosts the $125,000 Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. A field of nine talented fillies has been entered in the 2011 renewal of the 1 1/16 mile race.
Leading the field is Grade 1 winner Rigoletta along with Grade 2 winner Dixie City and the graded stakes placed Joyful Victory.

Rigoletta broke her maiden in her second try last year before placing third in the Darley Debutante (gr.1) and winning the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes in early October. She was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr.1) because of a popped splint. She made her 3-year-old debut in the La Habra Stakes (gr.3) on February 21st at Santa Anita and finished an uninspiring 5th in her first try on turf. Trainer Dan Hendricks stated that he does not think the filly is as good on the grass and feels she will run a much better race in the Honeybee. She won the Oaks Leaf at the same 1 1/16 mile distance as the Honeybee but has never started on a dirt surface. Her latest work, a 5 furlong bullet move completed in a time of :58.40, seems to indicate that she is ready to run a sharp race.

[Rigoletta currently ranks 12th on the HRN Kentucky Oaks Contenders page]

Dixie City will be making her first start since winning the Demoiselle Stakes (gr.2) by 3 ¼ lengths on November 27th at Aqueduct. She won 3 of 5 starts in 2010 and has never finished worse than third. She has strung together three fantastic 4 furlongs works for trainer Tony Dutrow since mid-February, each better than the last. Her last move was a blistering :47.60 move that was even faster than her March 1st :47.80 bullet move. Dutrow is confident in his filly’s abilities and especially likes how enthusiastically she has taken to her training since moving to Oaklawn.

Together trainer Larry Jones and wife Cindy Jones have won the last three runnings of the Honeybee Stakes and Jones likes his chances to keep that streak alive on Saturday. Jones has two fillies entered to run in the Honeybee but it will be Joyful Victory who takes the most action at the betting windows. Last year Joyful Victory raced just three times, breaking her maiden at first asking and closing out her juvenile campaign with a third place finishe in the Grade 1 race Frizette Stakes and a 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She enters the Honeybee off a bullet 5 furlong move that went in :58.80 at Oaklawn Park and if that isn’t enough to turn heads Larry Jones says that she reminds him of Eight Belles.

Holy Heavens was last seen winning the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 12th. Closing from dead last in the Martha Washington Holy Heavens registered a decisive 1 length victory in the $75,000 event. She began the year by finishing third behind Gran Lioness in the My Trusty Cat Stakes.

Summer Soiree is the second filly entered by trainer Larry Jones. She enters off a highly impressive 9 ¼ length romp at Oaklawn in a 1 1/16 mile allowance race in late January. Her March 7th 5 furlong work in :59.20 was good enough to earn her second fastest ranking out of 30 horses to work the distance.

The field is completed by Salty Strike, Norma’s Dream, Jazzin’ Okie and Hearts On Fire. Hearts On Fire finished a distant second to Summer Soiree before winning an allowance race last out at Oaklawn. Jazzin’ Okie last finished third behind Holy Heavens in the Martha Wasthington after breaking her maiden and winning an allowance optional claiming race at Remington Park. Salty Strike finished third in the Debutante Stakes last year and opened up her 2011 campaign with a second place finish on February 17th in a Gulfstream Park allowance race.

It’s hard to separate the top three choices in the race. Joyful Victory has good tactical speed but she seemed to flatten out in her last two efforts of 2010 after hitting the top of the stretch. Her works indicate that she is ready to run well and Larry Jones knows better than anyone how to win this race. Rigoletta is the one with the biggest room for improvement after failing to impress in her turf bow. She has already been touted as an “under the radar” Oaks filly and if she steps up with a win here she will gain a lot of support. Her works are looking very good. Dixie City enters with the best form in the race and her works have been absolutely brilliant. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her come away with the win.

Both Holy Heavens and Summer Soiree are intriguing here and have the advantage of recent good form. Summer Soiree takes a huge step up in class and I have my doubts that she is improved enough to handle this group. Holy Heavens didn’t beat much of anything in the Martha Washington but she still ran a very good race and looks like an improving contender. She could end up hitting the board with a solid performance.

Photo Courtesy of Coglianese Photos


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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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