4-Year-Old Filly Captures Stakes Debut for Third Straight Win
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Peter Brant’s British-bred In Italian, making her stakes debut off back-to-back wins, sprinted out to an early lead and never lost it, holding off a furious late bid from Wakanaka to capture Saturday’s $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 37th running of the one-mile Honey Fox for fillies and mares 4 and up was the fifth of nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.7 million on a spectacular 13-race program headlined by the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) for 3-year-olds on the road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 2.
Renamed in 2001 to honor the Florida-bred mare that won nine stakes and 13 of 25 career starts, three of them Grade 2 races including the 1981 Orchid at Gulfstream, the Honey Fox was run as the Joe Namath Stakes in 1985 and Joe Namath Handicap from 1986-2000. It was the fourth of six supporting turf stakes led by the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2).
Favored at 5-2 in a field of 11, In Italian ($7.40) completed the distance in 1:35.16 over a firm turf course. It was the second stakes win of the day for Brant, trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who teamed up with Virginia Joy in the $150,000 The Very One (G3).
Breaking from Post 9, In Italian was intent on being in front and got the jump on her rivals, tracked by Quinoa Tifah on the rail, fellow long shot Navratilova in the clear in third and normally front-running Grade 2 winner Jouster settled in fourth.
In Italian turned for home in front as Navratilova ranged up on the outside and Jouster came through an opening along the rail. Ortiz kept In Italian busy and ahead of Navratilova, who was edged for second by the dramatic late rush from Wakanaka. Sugar Fix, sent off at 16-1, ran fourth, with Jouster fifth.
A 4-year-old daughter of Dubawi, In Italian entered the Honey Fox having put together two straight gate-to-wire victories. She broke her maiden last May at Belmont Park and didn’t race again until capturing an open allowance Jan. 12 at Tampa Bay Downs.
$150,000 Honey Fox (G3) Quotes
Winning trainer Chad Brown (In Italian): “We really liked this horse last year. She was very impressive at Belmont and then she got a bad case of pneumonia. She had to be stopped on and rehabbed. I want to give Bruce Jackson credit down at Fair Hill. He rehabbed her and sent her back in good shape late in the year at Payson Park. She’s back and picking up where she left off and should have a really good career.”
Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (In Italian): “It went perfect. We didn’t want to go head to head, but my filly outbroke all of them so I said, ‘I’m gonna go.’ From there, she just took me all the way. I didn’t expect to be on the lead. It looked like there were a couple of horses coming out of sprint races, but when the gates opened, everything changed. She was on top, so I just said ‘Go ahead.’”
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: In Italian (Coglianese Photo)