Chocolate Kisses surges to Honeybee Stakes win at Oaklawn

March 09, 2019 06:34pm

Chocolate Kisses navigated inside of a tiring favorite Motion Emotion on Saturday under jockey Orlando Mojica, going by in the final strides to win the the Grade 3, $200,000 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The Mark Casse-trained filly won her 3-year-old debut on the turf at Fair Grounds but proved she could handle dirt Saturday while accumulating 50 points toward the May 3 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

"I mean she had things go perfect. It set up," Casse said. "They ran fast, but she got in a little trouble early and then she made a big wide move and she just kept going. I was proud of her. It was nice.

"We watched from Tampa Bay. We didn't have as much luck, unfortunately, in the Tampa Bay Derby. That cheered us up a little."

Motion Emotion led the way up front, setting fractions of 22.46 and 45.99. Chocolate Kisses was second to last in the 10-horse field, but Mojica took her to the outside after the first half-mile and the pair began to pass horses.

It looked as if Motion Emotion might open up in the stretch, but Bizwhacks came down the center from fifth and began to close the gap. Chocolate Kisses arrived on the scene even later. Mojica guided her to the inside of Motion Emotion to snag the win and finish off 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.78 while one length in front.

"I know we had a lot of speed in there," Mojica said. "(My) plan was to break and stay third or fourth, but that didn’t work. I tried to keep her outside because I knew she’d be running on the turf. I didn’t want to get a lot of dirt in her face. I knew I had plenty of horse at the three-eighths pole. She finished good."

Motion Emotion held for second over Bizwhacks, who was far ahead of Sunset Wish in fourth. Those three fillies earned 20, 10 and 5 Oaks points respectively.

Chocolate Kisses, campaigned by Debby M. Oxley, ran on both turf and dirt her 2-year-old season. She was third in Saratoga's P. G. Johnson Stakes on a yielding grass course and fourth in the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) over Keeneland's main track. She lost her rider at the break in the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs, her last start of 2018.

John C. Oxley purchased the Candy Ride filly for $410,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. The Honeybee was her third win in seven starts and increased her earnings to $232,950.


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