Laurel: Honeyquist in with “a shot”

Honeyquist, a son and grandson of juvenile champions, will get a chance to further the family legacy when he faces stakes company for the second straight start in Saturday’s $100,000 James F. Lewis III at Laurel Park.

The 11th running of the Lewis for 2-year-olds and 26th edition of the $100,000 Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies, both sprinting six furlongs, join the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go for fillies and mares 3 and up on the 10-race program.

First race post time is 11:45 a.m.

Campaigned by Mammas Boys Thoroughbred Racing Group, Ultra Championship Racing and James Miller, who bred the horse in West Virginia, Honeyquist is by Nyquist out of the Invisible Ink mare Honey Chile. Nyquist won the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old of 2015 while his sire, Uncle Mo, earned the same honors in 2010.

Honeyquist, based at Laurel with trainer Anthony Farrior, fetched $170,000 at auction last winter and debuted with a 5 ¼-length maiden special weight victory sprinting 4 ½ furlongs Sept. 24 at Charles Town. He stretched out to 6 ½ furlongs for his return in the Oct. 8 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial, also against state-breds, where he set the pace into deep stretch before grudgingly giving way to be second by less than a length.

“The first time we ran him he wasn’t fit. We kind of rushed him because we wanted to run in that stake race at Charles Town, and he just came up short in the stake,” Farrior said. “He probably had only worked three times before he ran the first time. But he’s a very smart horse.

“I sent him to the farm for 10 days after the stake race and gave him a little time,” he added. “We brought him back and he worked in 59 [seconds] on Sunday with [jockey Jevian] Toledo and did it really well, so he’s going in the right direction. I think he’s fit now. He’s bouncing around there real good.”

Toledo, also up in the Moscarelli, gets the return call from outermost Post 7. Honeyquist will be racing on his home track after being sent off as the favorite in each of his first two starts.

“He can run out of his own stall. He doesn’t have to go anywhere,” Farrior said. “I think this will be the first race where he’s actually fit. The first race he was probably 60 percent and the stake race he might have been 70 percent. Now, he looks good. He’s grown some and filled out.

“I think this will be the best race he’s run in,” he added. “He should improve. He ran a 73 Beyer [Speed Figure] the first time and he only had three works. If he improves, we have a shot.”