03/11/2017 7:27PM

It Tiz Well advances on Kentucky Oaks path with Honeybee win

Coady Photography
It Tiz Well earned 50 Kentucky Oaks eligibility points with Saturday's triumph.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A year after fever forced champion Songbird to miss the Kentucky Oaks, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is sitting in an enviable position for the first Friday in May.

Not only does he have the co-leading Kentucky Oaks points earner in Unique Bella, but It Tiz Well advanced along the trail Saturday when she rallied for a length win over Benner Island in the Grade 3, $200,000 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

It Tiz Well picked up 50 eligibility points for the Kentucky Oaks to rank fourth with a total of 54 - her mission from Southern California complete after Hollendorfer said earlier this week that Tommy Town Thoroughbreds wanted to send their filly to Oaklawn in an attempt to pick up points.  

A total of 85 were available to the first four finishers of the Honeybee, with Benner Island earning 20. Third-place finisher Elate got 10 and fourth-place finisher Tapa Tapa Tapa earned 5.

It Tiz Well ($7.80), who was making her two-turn debut in the Honeybee, settled in fourth Saturday as Someday Soon took the field through fractions of 23.06 for the opening quarter and 47.03 for the half-mile. It Tiz Well advanced as Tapa Tapa Tapa took over through six furlongs in 1:11.58, then worked past her rivals while going on to cover the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in a stakes-record time of 1:42.61. The previous mark of 1:43 was set in 1989 by Imaginary Lady.

Corey Nakatani was aboard It Tiz Well on Saturday.

“She is a nice filly,” he said. “I have always thought high of her. I felt the farther she went, the better she would get.”

It Tiz Well is a daughter of Arch and the Tiznow mare It Tiz. She was coming off an optional $75,000 claiming win over seven furlongs on Feb. 3 at Santa Anita. It Tiz Well had run second to Unique Bella one start prior, in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez.

Elate, who was favored in the Honeybee, rallied from next to last for third Saturday.

“She broke slow and that hurt us,” jockey Jose Lezcano said. “She had to make up a lot of ground today. She is a very nice filly and is improving each race.”

It Tiz Well is scheduled to return to her Southern California base Monday, said Don Chatlos, an assistant to Hollendorfer. She earned $120,000 for the win, which was her third from five career starts. It Tiz Well has now earned $226,840. 

The next race on Oaklawn’s road to the Kentucky Oaks is the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy on April 14.