Nine Stakes Winners in 11-Horse Field for One-Mile Turf Event
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Even with Grade 3 winner Shifty She sitting this one out, Championship Meet-leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. will be well represented with three contenders in a deep and competitive edition of the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The 37th running of the one-mile Honey Fox for fillies and mares 4 and up is part of a blockbuster 13-race program offering nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.7 million in purses including 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.
Six of the Fountain of Youth Day stakes are scheduled for the turf, led by the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) for 4-year-olds and up going 1 3/8 miles. First race post time is 12:10 p.m.
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 is one of six supporting turf stakes led by the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2).
Topping Joseph’s Honey Fox trio are stakes winners Lovely Luvy and Sugar Fix. Sonata Stable’s Lovely Luvy got caught with her head turned at the start of the one-mile, 70-yard Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf Jan. 22 at Gulfstream – rained off the grass to the all-weather Tapeta – but came with a strong late run to win by 2 ¼ lengths over fellow Florida-breds.
Lovely Luvy also found trouble in her prior start, a one-mile optional claiming allowance Dec. 10 at Gulfstream where she was forced to check sharply and wound up fifth, 6 ¼ lengths behind Katama Moonlight, her stablemate who also returns in the Honey Fox.
“She comes out of the same race as Katama Moolight. She met trouble in that race, and the last time, the Tapeta is a slower kind of surface so it suited her style more. That was the first time she got a clean trip and she was victorious,” Joseph said. “With her on the turf, because she comes from behind and she’s a little tricky to ride, she kind of meets trouble. But, she’s a horse that, if she gets a clean trip, she can be competitive. Trip is so important with her.”
Junior Alvarado gets the return call from Post 1 in a field of 11.
Big Frank Stable and Mad Dog Racing Stable’s Sugar Fix owns three wins and three seconds in seven tries over the Gulfstream turf. She captured the 1 1/16-mile Claiming Crown Tiara by 1 ¼ lengths Dec. 4 at Gulfstream, and exits a runner-up finish to Lovely Luvy in the Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf. Claimed for $40,000 out of a July 2020 win at Saratoga, she took a short lead into the stretch but was no match for her stablemate.
“She’s a filly that tries,” Joseph said. “We claimed her and she’s been good for us. A mile is probably her best distance, so we’re taking a shot with her. She ran a big race in the Claiming Crown. The last time was on Tapeta. I think she’s better on the turf.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will be aboard from Post 2.
Magic Cap Stables’ Katama Moonlight is a 6-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon that is scheduled to become a broodmare this year. A three-time winner in eight starts over the Gulfstream turf, her December allowance victory was followed by a trip to Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 5 where she tired to seventh after setting the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Endeavour (G3).
“We’re going to take one more chance with her,” Joseph said. “I thought she won the allowance two back pretty impressively. We were a bit disappointed at Tampa, so we’ll give her one more try on this course. It’s coming up a tough race, obviously, but if we can pick up a piece it would be nice.
“It’s hard to say if it was the competition [last time],” he added. “I thought she was traveling really well and then she kind of stopped a bit quicker than you’d like to think. We hope she rebounds to the race she ran here two back and if she runs that race, she should be competitive.”
Tyler Gaffalione is named to ride from Post 10.
Fortune Racing’s Bipartisanship upset the Tropical Park Oaks at 19-1 odds Dec. 26 at Gulfstream, a race where she overcame traffic trouble to split horses late and get up by a half-length. The effort earned her a shot in the inaugural Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G3), where she got off slowly and was unable to find the same kind of rally, finishing fifth.
Both races came under jockey Paco Lopez, who will ride back from Post 5.
“The Oaks was a really good effort. Paco really suits her, and this seems like a logical spot for her,” trainer Graham Motion said. “She ran in the Pegasus race, which I thought was a big step for her and I thought she ran admirably. She’s another one that likes the firm ground at Gulfstream and she’s trained well for the race.”
Starlight Racing and Glen Hill Farm’s Grade 2 winner Jouster is entered to make her first start since finishing eighth as the favorite in the one-mile Lake George (G3) last July at Saratoga. She is 2-0 lifetime at Gulfstream, breaking her maiden and capturing an allowance last winter before going on to be beaten a nose in the Florida Oaks (G3) and win the one-mile Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland.
“She’s good enough to win these kinds of races,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It’s a bit of a layoff, but I like the way she’s training. She won the Grade 2 so we know the distance is good for her. She’s a little bit like [Grade 1-placed stablemate] Never Surprised. She has early tactical speed and seems to like this course.”
Championship Meet-leading rider Luis Saez is named from Post 3.
Godolphin homebred Alms won back-to-back Grade 3 stakes to cap her 2-year-old season of 2019 and has raced three times in each of the last two years. She won the Shantel Lanerie Memorial to open 2020 and was third by a head in that year’s Appalachian. She was most recently second to Regal Glory after setting the early pace in the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf.
Joel Rosario, recently voted his first Eclipse Award as champion rider, has the call from Post 7.
Amerman Racing’s 2021 Edgewood (G2) winner Gift List, fourth in the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf; Peter Brant’s In Italian, a winner of two straight making her stakes debut; G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Navratilova, last out winner of the Valley View (G3) in October at Keeneland; Arindel’s Quinoa Tifah, homebred winner of the 2020 Our Dear Peggy; and Gary Barber and Team Valor International’s Italian Group 3 winner Wakanaka, sixth in the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf in her U.S. debut, round out the field.
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Lovely Luvy (Lauren King Photo)