03/12/2011 7:38PM

Oaklawn: Joyful Victory extends Jones family's Honeybee monopoly

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Joyful Victory, winning the Honeybee, could move on to the Kentucky Oaks with a good effort in Sunday's Fantasy.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - In a performance called “effortless” by her rider, Mike Smith, Joyful Victory established herself as one of the most exciting 3-year-old fillies in the country on Saturday when she cruised home by 8 3/4  lengths in the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park.

Holy Heavens rallied for second, three lengths in front of third-place finisher Dixie City. Rigoletta, the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Oak Leaf during the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park, set a quick pace and finished sixth in her dirt debut Saturday.

Joyful Victory ($5) came into the Honeybee off a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The race was her first in blinkers and her first for trainer Larry Jones, who added the equipment in part because he felt Joyful Victory was “clocking’” her new surroundings a little too much upon her arrival at Oaklawn in January.

In the Honeybee, the filly was content to sit in fifth early as Rigoletta put up fractions of 22.67 seconds for the opening quarter and 45.91 for the half-mile, pushed along by Norma’s Dream and Salty Strike. Joyful Victory began to move to the leaders into the final turn, advanced three wide, engulfed the competition into the stretch, and proceeded to cover 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.83.

“It set up great, almost too good,” Smith said. “They came back to me a little quicker than I wanted to, which therefore caused me to hit the front sooner than I wanted to. I was like ‘Oh, geez, it’s a long way to be in front for a mare that can look around some.’ I just tapped her, I think twice, just a little reminder to keep going straight and she did. So everything was great.”

Jones, along with his wife, Cindy, has now trained the winners of the last four Honeybees. Their other winners are No Such Word, Just Jenda, and Eight Belles. Joyful Victory gave her owner, Rick Porter, his third Honeybee win behind Round Pond and Eight Belles.

Jones said the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn on April 10 is the next goal for Joyful Victory.

The Honeybee was the first stakes win for Joyful Victory, a daughter of Tapit. She began her career with trainer Tony Dutrow, winning her debut in a maiden special weight route at Delaware Park, then finishing third in the Grade 1 Frizette in her start before the Breeders’ Cup. Joyful Victory was transferred to Jones after he came out of retirement in January, as Jones had previously been the trainer for Porter.