Updated on 09/16/2011 6:37AM

Batique rallies to win Honey Fox


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Just as she's about to be retired, Batique is reaching peak form.

For the second straight time in a Grade 3 stakes, Batique settled comfortably off a slow pace then came storming down the lane to win. Friday, Batique took charge in the final furlong under Jorge Chavez and drew off to a 2 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap run over a soft turf course and before 5,852 fans at chilly Gulfstream Park.

My Sweet Westly rallied for second, a neck in front of Silver Bandana.

Batique's victory came four weeks after she won the Grade 3 My Charmer at Calder, marking the first time in her 24-race career that Batique won races back-to-back.

Now, the question is whether Batique will keep her date with Rahy in the breeding shed this spring, or if owner-breeder Helen Groves waits and runs Batique throughout her 6-year-old season.

"We're going to see what we're going to do,' a non-committal Groves said in the winner's circle.

"She's 6-years-old now, she's probably worth a lot of money as a broodmare,' trainer Michael Matz said.

Matz took the blinkers off Batique for the My Charmer and it paid off as she sat in fifth position early before rallying to win by a half-length. Chavez, who was aboard that day, gave Batique the same ride Friday as he kept Batique in fifth position while racing three wide down the backstretch.

The slow pace of 26.02 seconds, 51.69, and 1:16.93 was somewhat disconcerting to Matz, "but I took into consideration the turf was soft and it looked like he had a lot of horse,' Matz said. "And actually she trained better for this race than she did the My Charmer.'

Batique, a daughter of Storm Cat, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:49.32 over the soft turf and returned $4.60 to win as the 6-5 favorite.

Even if Groves elects to retire Batique, she is likely to start once more in the Suwannee River Handicap here on March 3.

Trainer Christophe Clement said he scratched probable favorite Veil of Avalon due to the soft turf and the weight assignment.

for the Honey Fox Handicap chart.*

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