The Grade 3, $100,000 Honeymoon Stakes brings together a field of nine fillies at Santa Anita Park, eight with at least one win on the grass. Among the group, only Laura’s Light has won a stakes on the surface, actually two, as she was victorious in the Blue Norther Stakes at a mile in December before a win in the Grade 3 Sweet Life Stakes at five and a half furlongs in February. Croughavouke is winless in six races since coming to the U.S. last summer but has run second in three of those, all stakes, including the Blue Norther, in which Guitty finished fifth before a sixth place effort in the China Doll Stakes in March. Stela Star finished fast for second in the China Doll in her U.S. debut and can improve, as can the fifth-place finisher in that race, Red Lark, who had earned her first career win at this nine-furlong turf trip prior to that. Similarly, Little Bird won at a mile on grass (in an allowance race) one before last but could only manage a ninth-place effort in the China Doll. Then we come to Parkour, the one the rest will all have to catch as she led from start to finish in her most recent race and first start as a 3-year-old following a fourth-place effort in the Blue Norther. K P Dreamin tried turf for the first time in the race won by Parkour and rallied from far back (10th early) to finish third so may be passing a few at the least in the Honeymoon. Fashion Royalty won one of three races in her native Great Britain and enters the race off a 10th of 11 finish 15 days ago.
Parkour may not be as fast overall as some of the others in this year’s Honeymoon Stakes, having earned a 92 Equibase Speed Figure in her most recent race, a career-best which is still a bit shy of the 103 field-high figure Laura’s Light earned last December winning the Blue Norther Stakes over the course. Still, Parkour may have a significant edge over the other eight fillies in the field as she is very likely the lone front-runner in the group. In her third career start last December, first on turf and first around two turns, Parkour established a clear lead before the field had rounded the first turn and went into cruising mode, giving no other horse in the field of 12 a chance to get close while coasting home by 2 ½ lengths. She never made the lead in the Blue Norther in her next start but after a three-month rest returned to win even more easily on March 22. In that race, Mike Smith rode for the first time and by the time the field had run a half-mile, Parkour was in front by four lengths, widening to a six length margin before coasting home by 3 ¼ lengths. Considering the improvement expected of her in her second start as a 3-year-old and the lack of any serious early challengers given only Laura’s Light has any tactical speed, Parkour appears pretty likely to successfully play “come catch me” with this field and earn her first stakes win.
Laura’s Light disappointed as the odds-on favorite in the Bourbonette Oaks Stakes at Turfway Park in March, her first start outside of California and first two-turn race on an all-weather surface. Prior to that, Laura’s Light had run extremely well in all three races on turf. First, she finished second in the Jimmy Durante Stakes in November with a 97 figure, then improved to 103 winning the Blue Norther Stakes one month later. Cutting back in distance to a sprint, Laura’s Light ran a strong race when closing from third of seven to win the Sweet Life Stakes in February before the Oaks. In steady training for the last month, Laura’s Light is likely to be in the catbird seat behind early leader Parkour in for the first part of the race and if able to show the late kick she put forth in the Sweet Life, could go on in the late stages for her third career stakes victory.
Stela Star won a Group 3 stakes race in her native Ireland last October in the fourth start of her career, then was purchased by Hronis Racing and sent to John Sadler. Given a few months to mature, Stela Star made her North American debut in March in the China Doll Stakes and after lagging back in 12th of 13 in the early stages, commenced a steady rally to finish second at the end, beaten just a half-length. The effort earned a 91 figure, more than decent enough that with logical improvement in her second start off the layoff she could be rallying strongly late under Santa Anita leading rider Flavien Prat, who recently won six races in one day.
The rest of the field, with their best Equibase Speed Figures, is Croughavouke (97), Fashion Royalty (81), Guitty (95), K P Dreamin (81), Little Bird (95) and Red Lark (89).