Rigoletta runs toward Kentucky Oaks
Updated: March 8, 2011, 6:36 PM ETBy Mary Rampellini | Daily Racing Form
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.