03/09/2011 5:01PM

Oaklawn: Honey Bunch will try to keep alll four shoes on in allowance sprint


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The fillies that Southern California-based owner John Waken has shipped east to run on dirt have excelled. Harissa picked up her first graded stakes win last month in the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel, while Nicole H became a stakes winner this winter at Aqueduct.

The latest Waken filly to make the move is Honey Bunch, who heads an entry-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares on Friday at Oaklawn Park. She had raced on synthetic surfaces up to last month, when she shipped to Arkansas and ran third in the $60,000 Spring Fever.

And although dirt is now in place at Santa Anita, it appears Honey Bunch has made a home out of Oaklawn. She has worked well over the local strip since the Spring Fever, a race in which not everything went her way. Her trainer, Joe Petalino, learned that when she returned to be unsaddled.

“She had a hind shoe come off in the race,” he said. “That didn’t help her much. It was on sideways when she came back.”

Honey Bunch still earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 87 in the Spring Fever, which was run on Feb. 20. She was beaten 1 3/4 length and three-quarters by Salty Wave, who is a multiple stakes winner. As for Honey Bunch, the race was her first since June 2010, when she won a maiden special weight at Hollywood Park. Since the Spring Fever, the filly, who is 4, has breezed a half-mile in 48.40 seconds at Oaklawn.

“She’s doing awfully good,” said Petalino.

Cliff Berry, the leading rider at Oaklawn, has the mount from the rail. Honey Bunch will face seven others in the allowance, which is to be run at six furlongs. Roma Jean, a 3-year-old who was second in the $50,000 Dixie Belle on Jan. 15, will return to the distance of that race Friday after finishing eighth in the $75,000 Martha Washington at a mile Feb. 12.

Another 3-year-old who will garner support is Mysterious Chimes, who was a sharp maiden special weight winner Feb. 25.

The allowance, which goes as the eighth race, will be part of a program that includes a second-level optional $35,000 claimer for fillies and mares at a mile. The race has drawn stakes winners Zarb’s Ballerina, Bella Diamante, and She’s All In.