03/08/2011 4:26PM

Oaklawn's Honeybee puts Rigoletta on Kentucky Oaks trail

Benoit & Associates
Rigoletta, winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf, will become a broodmare in Kentucky this spring.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Rigoletta was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall with a minor physical setback following her win in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf, but she has resurfaced this year as a potential candidate for the Kentucky Oaks. Her first step toward that goal will come on Saturday, when she runs in the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn.

The 1 1/16-mile race is for 3-year-old fillies. It serves as a prep for the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy, which has produced the last two winners of the Kentucky Oaks, Rachel Alexandra and Blind Luck.

“That would be the ultimate goal, the Fantasy to the Kentucky Oaks,” said Dan Hendricks, who trains Rigoletta. “But first, we’re going to try to get to the Fantasy.”

Rigoletta was to fly in Wednesday from Southern California. The Honeybee will be her second start of the year, following the Grade 3 La Habra at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf at Santa Anita on Feb. 21. Rigoletta finished fifth, five lengths back in the field of 11.

“She got a lot out of the race,” Hendricks said. “It took a little edge off of her, tightened her up pretty good, and now we’re getting back to a mile and a sixteenth.”

Rigoletta won the Oak Leaf at that distance, at the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park Oct. 3. She tracked the pace for a half-length win, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 86.

“She popped a small splint afterward,” Hendricks said. “We took care of it, turned her out.”

Hendricks said Rigoletta was not quite ready for last Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita Oaks, and with the remaining stakes for her at home on turf, the decision was made to target the Honeybee. Michael Baze, who rode on occasion for Hendricks when previously based in Southern California, has the mount Saturday.

Others expected include Breeders’ Cup alumna Joyful Victory, who breezed a bullet five furlongs in 58.80 seconds Monday; Holy Heavens, winner of last month’s Martha Washington; and Summer Soiree, an impressive allowance winner at Oaklawn.

Dixie City looking at Honeybee

Dixie City, the winner of the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct in her last start Nov. 27, is possible for the Honeybee, said her trainer, Tony Dutrow. She breezed a half-mile in 47.60 seconds Tuesday morning, in company with J W Blue. Clockers had the pair, which worked under exercise riders, galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.60.

“I was very happy,” Dutrow said Tuesday. “J W Blue is going to run in the Rebel on the 19th, and I’m going to talk to the people that own Dixie City this morning, and she could very easily run Saturday in the Honeybee.”

Dutrow said Dixie City was brought to Oaklawn with the goal of making the race. She had been given the month of December off at a farm in Virginia.

“We started back with her the second week in January, hoped to make this race, and it took her a little bit of time to get going,” he said. “But she’s doing very good the last three weeks, and I’m feeling good about her.”

The co-feature on Saturday is the Grade 3, $125,000 Razorback Handicap. Win Willy has been highweighted at 121 pounds for the 1 1/16-mile race. The field could also include Kate’s Main Man (119), Thiskyhasnolimit (119), Winslow Homer (119), Slew the Man (117), Golden Yank (115) and And Music Came (113).

Borel suspended, appeals

Jockey Calvin Borel has been suspended three days by the Oaklawn board of stewards for “failing to ride out his horse, George Ray, costing a placing in the second race March 5,” according to a ruling issued Sunday. George Ray finished fifth. Borel has appealed, said his agent, Jerry Hissam.