03/06/2003 12:00AM

Explosive Beauty gets route test in Honeybee

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Explosive Beauty will face a new set of challenges and challengers when she goes for her third straight stakes win Saturday in the $75,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies is a prep for the Grade 2, $200,000 Fantasy here April 11. A field of seven will go, including My Trusty Cat, the lone two-turn stakes winner in the field, who adds blinkers, and Ruby's Reception, who last raced in the Breeders' Cup. Explosive Beauty will be coupled with the Steve Hobby-trained Quest for Truth. Both fillies are owned by K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.

Explosive Beauty, who will be ridden by Jamie Theriot, has been one of the most exciting horses to race this season at Oaklawn. She won the $50,000 Dixie Belle by 6 1/2 lengths on opening day, Jan. 31, and the $50,000 Martha Washington by

5 3/4 lengths Feb. 17. In each of those wins Explosive Beauty launched an explosive move on the turn and won going away.

Explosive Beauty will be making her third start in five weeks, partly because the Dixie Belle was run a week later than scheduled because of poor weather.

"That's a challenge for a filly, especially a 3-year-old filly," said Cole Norman, who trains Explosive Beauty. "But she's not showing us any reasons that we shouldn't run her."

Norman said Explosive Beauty has held her weight since the Martha Washington, and he was pleased with her work of three furlongs in 38.20 seconds on March 2.

"She galloped out a good strong half," he said.

While the Dixie Belle and Martha Washington were both at six furlongs, Explosive Beauty will be trying two turns for the first time Saturday.

"The [question] is, can she go that far?" Norman said. "We think she can the way she relaxes and settles in and kinds of lays off the pace.

"She does everything perfect in her races. When you push the throttle down, she goes."

Distance is a non-issue for one of Explosive Beauty's new challengers, My Trusty Cat, who won the $250,000 Delta Princess at a mile on Dec. 20, one start after she finished third to My Boston Gal in the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs.

My Trusty Cat comes into the Honeybee following a third-place finish to Lady Tak in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds on Jan. 26. She was a little farther back than usual in that race, and for the Honeybee adds blinkers for trainer David Vance.

Ruby's Reception must overcome the longest layoff of any of the starters in the Honeybee. She has not raced since Oct. 26, when she finished 10th to champion Storm Flag Flying in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

She wrenched an ankle in the race, but has since recovered.

"Physically she's great," said trainer Larry Jones, who is eager to see how Ruby's Reception will perform following the longest layoff of her career.

Ruby's Reception has worked three straight bullets in preparation for the Honeybee, her latest coming last Saturday when she went six furlongs in 1:14.60 under regular rider Terry Thompson.

"He's been very pleased with the way she's worked," Jones said of Thompson, "and as he's told me, she's a whole lot better than what she was last year."

Ruby's Reception had a strong year at 2, when she won three races, including the $100,000 Debutante at Ellis Park. She also ran second to Atlantic Ocean in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies, and second to Westerly Breeze in the Grade 2, $400,000 Alcibiades.

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