03/16/2013 6:32PM

Gulfstream Park: Centre Court returns sharp in Honey Fox

Courtney Heeney
Centre Court, making her first start since November, wins the Honey Fox under Julien Leparoux.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Centre Court returned from a four-month vacation like she’d never been away, parlaying a perfectly judged ride by Julien Leparoux into a convincing 1 3/4-length victory over Samitar in Saturday’s $150,000 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park.

Centre Court, a model of consistency who has never finished worse than second in nine starts on grass, had been away since closing out her 3-year-old campaign with a popular  two-length triumph in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17. But trainer Rusty Arnold had her fit and ready off the bench for her 2013 bow in the Grade 2 Honey Fox.

Centre Court broke alertly, then was rated in fourth position by Leparoux, within easy striking distance of the pacesetting Frontside. Centre Court was able to save ground while commencing her rally on the second bend, eased out for the drive, readily overtook the tiring leader nearing the furlong marker and won going away.

Samitar, the only Grade 1 winner in the field - and like Centre Court making her first start of the season - rallied from near the rear of the field to finish second, a head in front of Frontside. Channel Lady, winner of the Grade 3 Suwannee River here earlier in the meet, was fourth.

Centre Court, a 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike owned by G. Watts Humphrey Jr., paid $6.20 as the tepid favorite after completing a mile over a firm course in 1:33.18.

“She had trained spectacular at Palm Meadows and we’d been pointing  for this all year,” said Arnold. “We were pretty confident she’d run well but you never know until they do it. It was her first trip against 4-year-olds. She’s pretty special I think. She hasn’t won a Grade 1 yet and we want to get that done. She’s beaten Grade 1 horses but she hasn’t won one. We’re headed to Keeneland and that’s what we hope to get done.”

Arnold said Centre Court would likely make her next start in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on April 13.

Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
So much for my Channel Lady, very disappointing run. Didn't look like the same mare that won the Marshuas River at all. Not surprising I guess, not like I haven't been wrong before. Great run by the winner Julien gave her an excellent ride, well done mon ami'
Dave More than 1 year ago
She's good, but she had it all her own way on the front end in her last race.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Good job Julien. Anybody who looked past the fact he came for this filly missed the boat. She is a super star in the making.
Nicholas Briglia More than 1 year ago
Those two five furlong grass works were hard to ignore. Terrific record on grass for this horse.
Paul More than 1 year ago
Pretty good time for first time back. Way to go Rusty. It's easy to cheer for the good guys in the sport and Rusty is one of them!
mfunicello More than 1 year ago
After watching the rebel, the West's now have 2 jockeys to blame instead of one. Great ride by Julien in this race.
AROL ABEL More than 1 year ago
Couldn't of said it better.Dumb move for them taking Leppy of Flashback
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
I tried to tell you to send it in! I did!!!
Gunner More than 1 year ago
20 across the board. Yeah, 60 cents altogether Well at least you can now pay all the people you owe. Or maybe - NOT! I guess FAVS win @33% - beats pan-handling.
Wonderagain More than 1 year ago
Connections like Rusty Arnold/G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. are big reason why I became a racing fan. Looking forward to Centre Court running in the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland (another reason I became a racing fan).