Debby Oxley's Chocolate Kisses earned herself 50 points and a spot in the gate for the May 3 $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) with her come from behind victory in Saturday's $200,000 Honeybee Stakes before a crowd of 16,000 at Oaklawn Park.
Chocolate Kisses was unhurried early as the even-money favorite Motion Emotion jumped to an early lead and set speedy fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 4/5 for the first half mile while maintaining at one point a 2 ½ length advantage. The winner made a five-wide bid at the three-eighths pole, shifted to the inside in the stretched and rallied late to catch the front-runner late for the victory by a length. Bizwhacks came from mid-pack to be third. The final time was 1:45 3/5 for 1 1/16 miles on a good track.
“I mean she had things go perfect,” trainer Mark Casse said by phone after winning his second 3-year-old filly stakes of the meet. “It set up. 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.”
Sunset Wish finished fourth after a troubled trip. She was followed by Perfect Reins, Ultimate Mo, Power Gal (JPN), who had won the Martha Washington Feb. 2 for Casse, Raintree Starlett, Best Kept Secret and Marathon Queen completed the order of finish.
Chocolate Kisses, by Candy Ride (ARG), improved her record to three wins from seven starts and has now earned $232,950. She paid $17, $6 and $4 at odds of $7.50 to 1.
Chocolate Kisses, who earned one point last year for a total of 51 points, is currently ranked second on the leaderboard for the Kentucky Oaks, which is limited to 14 starters. Motion Emotion earned 20 points for second is now tied with three other horses among the top 14. Bizwhacks earned 10 points for third and Sunset Wish earned five for fourth. The next race at Oaklawn along the Oaks trail is the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 12, which offers a total of 170 points.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 first post.
Winning trainer Mark Casse, Chocolate Kisses – “I mean she had things go perfect. It set up. 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.”
On Power Gal, sixth – “I still haven't talked to my group yet, but she was definitely disappointing.”
Winning jockey Orlando Mojica, Chocolate Kisses – “I know we had a lot of speed in there. I 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 3/8th pole. She finished good.”
Jockey Jon Court, second on even money favorite Motion Emotion – “She left there running, but she came back to me. The track's been fast all day. She handled it pretty well. She still had a punch at the end. It took what it took to get by her in the final strides. She was fighting to the end.”
Trainer Tom Van Berg, second on even money favorite Motion Emotion – “You can't go a mile and a sixteenth going 22 2/5 (opening quarter). It's just unfortunate. In my opinion, she was the best and she should have won that race.”
Jockey Mario Gutierrez, third on Bizwhacks – “My trip was perfect, just perfect. She just got fatigued at the end.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.