Updated on 09/16/2011 7:36AM

Batique two-surface threat

Bill Denver/Equi-Photos
Batique, a stakes winner on both surfaces, looks tough on turf or dirt in Friday's $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - With heavy rain falling Wednesday afternoon and thunderstorms in the forecast for Thursday, Friday's $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap, the first scheduled turf stakes of the Gulfstream Park meeting, could be moved to the main track.

John Clear, Gulfstream's turf course superintendent, said the turf absorbed an inch of rain on Monday, and he was leery of more rain falling before Friday. "If we get any kind of substantial rain, it's questionable," Clear said of using the turf on Friday.

Eighteen were entered for the Grade 3 Honey Fox, run at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, but only 12 will be permitted to run. Several runners were entered for dirt only.

If the Honey Fox stays on the turf, Batique and Veil of Avalon are the ones to beat in a contentious race. However, Veil of Avalon, the 118-pound highweight, drew the 12 post.

* is coming off a half-length victory in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap at Calder on Dec. 8. That was her second start for trainer Michael Matz, who removed the blinkers from her equipment after she set a fast pace and finished second in the Grade 3 Athenia at Belmont in her previous race. The equipment change worked, as Batique settled behind a slow pace early in the My Charmer before unleashing a powerful stretch kick.

"I was completely surprised how good she did relax in the My Charmer," Matz said. "Basically, that's what we've been trying to do, to get her relaxed and finish strong instead of running so [fast] in the beginning."

Matz said he would prefer the Honey Fox stay on turf, although Batique has won three races on dirt, including a stakes. Batique drew post 9 and will be ridden by Jorge Chavez.

Trainer Christophe Clement has entered both Veil of Avalon and Zeiting, and will let the weather dictate which one to run. Veil of Avalon rallied to win the Solo Haina Handicap in November at Calder, her third win from her last five starts. She began her North American career at Gulfstream last March, finishing second behind Krisada in a third-level allowance race. Krisada won Saturday's Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap.

Zeiting was fifth in this race last year and is coming off a troubled eighth-place finish in the My Charmer. She was beaten only three lengths after being forced to steady on the far turn and in the stretch.

Tap Dance won the Bonnie Miss Stakes over this track last March and is the one to beat if the race is moved to the dirt.


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