Updated on 03/26/2015 3:04PM

Coffee Clique launches campaign in Honey Fox

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Tom Keyser
Coffee Clique (right) has not raced since this victory in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont last June.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Three days before the 2014 Florida Derby, Coffee Clique came off a seven-month layoff to win a high-caliber allowance race at Gulfstream Park, kicking off a successful, albeit brief, campaign that included a Grade 1 victory.

On Saturday, four races before this year’s Florida Derby, Coffee Clique returns from a 9 1/2-month layoff in the Grade 2 Honey Fox Stakes, kicking off what her connections hope is another successful season. The Honey Fox is for fillies and mares going a mile on turf.

At $300,000, the Honey Fox is the richest of the seven stakes races on the undercard of the $1 million Florida Derby. It drew a solid field of nine, including stakes winners Istanford, Sandiva, Lady Lara, and Baffle Me.

Coffee Clique has not run since winning the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont last June 7. According to trainer Brian Lynch, Coffee Clique underwent bone remodeling that required time off. Lynch said that had the horse needed surgery, she would have been retired.

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Lynch said the time off has done Coffee Clique a world of good.

“Physically, she looks great,” Lynch said. “She’s a bigger, stronger filly. There’s a lot more to her.”

This is certainly no easy spot.

Sandiva, trained by Todd Pletcher, has already won two stakes at the meet. Istanford could be loose on the lead for trainer Michael Stidham in her second start off a layoff.

Lady Lara, the impressive winner of the Pebbles last year at Belmont, and Marbre Rose, 2 for 2 in this country, also have license to win.

One race following the Honey Fox, fillies and mares go 1 1/2 miles on turf in the Grade 3, $150,000 Orchid Handicap.

Riposte, a multiple Grade 2 winner last year, makes her second start off a layoff against Tabreed, who makes the final start of her career, and Beauty Parlor, who makes her first start in North America.

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HONEY FOX

KEY CONTENDERS

Coffee Clique (Last 3 Beyers: 98-97-92)

◗ She makes her first start in 294 days but has fired fresh before.

“She’s a filly I feel like you can get her ready first time,” Lynch said. “She’s had an uninterrupted schedule and we’ll roll the dice with her.”

◗ Lynch said the main goals for her are the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill on Derby Day and the Just a Game on Belmont Day.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 8 Coffee Clique. Trainer Brian Lynch is 21-3-3-3 with a $0.95 ROI over the past five years in turf routes following a layoff of 180 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Istanford (Last 3 Beyers: 92-76-93)

◗ She came off a 4 1/2-month layoff and ran second in the $59,000 Bayou Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 21.

◗ It is no secret that she will be on the lead early under Corey Lanerie.

“She only has one way of going – there’s no taking her back,” Stidham said. “Her work here the other morning was better than she had worked before the Bayou. She’s a 4-year-old now; she’s settling down a little bit mentally. I’m happy with the way she’s coming up to the race.”

Lady Lara (Beyers: 86-90)

◗ She displayed a dazzling turn of foot when rallying from well off the pace to win the Pebbles at Belmont last October. She came back with a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill on Nov. 15 and hasn’t run since.

“After the Churchill race she was a little gutted up, so we gave her a vacation,” trainer Bill Mott said.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Lady Lara. Trainer Bill Mott is 17-1-3-6 with a $0.21 ROI over the past five years in turf route graded stakes following a layoff of 120 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Party Now. Trainer Shug McGaughey is 29-10-6-3 with a $3.16 ROI over the past five years in turf route graded stakes following a layoff of 61 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan


ORCHID

KEY CONTENDERS

Riposte (Last 3 Beyers; 92-97-98)

◗ She was developing into arguably the top older turf female in the country last year when her connections were forced to stop on her, and they debated whether to bring her back this year. She returned with a solid second to the now-retired Irish Mission in the Grade 3 The Very One.

“Eight months off, and it looked like she got a little tired,” said Mott, who trains Riposte for Juddmonte Farms. “The filly that beat us is a good filly, and she had already run down there.”

◗ With Joel Rosario riding Lea for Mott in Dubai on Saturday, leading rider Javier Castellano will ride Riposte.

Photo Call (Beyers: 90-91)

◗ She ran a good third in Grade 3 La Prevoyante on Dec. 27. She was forced to check at the three-sixteenths pole and was still beaten just a length by Irish Mission.

◗ Trainer Graham Motion said he felt Photo Call was “unlucky” in the La Prevoyante, and he opted to freshen her up for this.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 9 Photo Call. Trainer Graham Motion is 33-11-4-3 with a $4.75 ROI over the past five years in turf routes of 10 furlongs or more following a layoff of at least 61 days. Click for more details. Mike Hogan


Beauty Parlor

◗ A three-time winner in France, this Kentucky-bred is a daughter of Moon Queen, who won the 2002 The Very One Stakes here.

“She’s a new shooter; I like her,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “She’s done very well at Payson Park. I don’t know if she’s more mile-and-a-quarter or mile-and-a-half, but I guess we’ll find out.”


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Beauty Parlor. Trainer Christophe Clement is 20-8-1-4 with a $4.47 ROI over the past five years in turf routes with foreign shippers following a layoff of 180 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan


Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anybody heard anything on whether these saturday races will be fixed or not? I havnt seen much about the fixing so far. Know its there, just havn't heard much yet.
tommy More than 1 year ago
I remember the last time this horse won and I had a heavy bet, I bought coffee for everyone after !! I did the same when the pizza man won, I bought pizza for everyone!!