By: Bloodhorse Staff
Chocolate Kisses (inside) runs down Motion Emotion to win the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park
Debby Oxley's Chocolate Kisses earned 50 points and a spot in the gate for the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) with her come-from-behind victory in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 9 at Oaklawn Park.
Chocolate Kisses was unhurried early as even-money favorite Motion Emotion jumped to the lead and set speedy fractions of :22.46 and :45.99 for the first half-mile. The winner made a five-wide bid at the three-eighths pole, shifted to the inside in the stretch, and rallied late to catch the frontrunner and win by a length. Bizwhacks came from midpack to finish third. The final time was 1:45.78 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track.
Off a Jan. 18 optional-claiming allowance win going a mile on the turf at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Chocolate Kisses picked up her first stakes score.
"I know we had a lot of speed in (the race)," said winning jockey Orlando Mojica. "The plan was to break and stay third or fourth, but that didn't work. I tried to keep her outside because I knew she'd been running on the turf. I didn't want to get a lot of dirt in her face. I knew I had plenty of horse at the three-eighths pole. She finished good."
Trainer Tom Van Berg said the swift early fractions derailed Motion Emotion's chances.
"You can't go a mile and a sixteenth going :22 2/5 (for the opening quarter)," he said. "It's just unfortunate. In my opinion, she was the best, and she should have won that race."
Trainer Mark Casse agreed things set up well for Chocolate Kisses.
"I mean, she had things go perfect," Casse said by phone after winning his second 3-year-old filly stakes of the Oaklawn meet. "It set up. They ran fast, but she got in a little trouble early and then she made a big wide move and she just kept going. I was proud of her. It was nice. We watched from Tampa Bay. We didn't have as much luck, unfortunately, in the Tampa Bay Derby. That cheered us up a little."
Casse's Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) runners Sir Winston and Dream Makerfinished fifth and 10th, respectively, in the Florida prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The trainer was also represented in the Honeybee by Feb. 2 Martha Washington Stakes winner Power Gal, who finished seventh.
Chocolate Kisses, by Candy Ride , improved her record to 3-1-1 from seven starts, with earnings of $232,950. She was bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud out of the graded stakes-winning Forest Wildcat mare Brownie Points, the dam of multiple graded stakes winner Synchrony. Brownie Points produced a Pioneerof the Nile colt in 2018 and was bred to Mastery for 2019.