03/13/2013 4:15PM

Gulfstream Park notes: Samitar starting year in Honey Fox


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Grade 1 winner Samitar will make her 2013 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Honey Fox to be decided at a mile on the Gulfstream Park turf.

Samitar has not run since finishing fourth in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in October. She won Belmont’s Grade 1 Garden City for trainer Chad Brown in her previous start.

Centre Court, runner-up in the 2012 QE II, also will kick off her 2013 campaign in the Honey Fox. Centre Court won a trio of graded stakes during the second half of 2012, including the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga and Grade 2 Mrs. Revere in her seasonal finale at Churchill Downs.

Other key players in the Honey Fox include Channel Lady, wire-to-wire winner of the Grade 3 Suwannee River earlier in the meet, and Class Included, who will make her turf debut Saturday as well as her first start since moving into trainer Dale Romans’s barn.

Ciao Bella, Heavenly Landing, Namaskara, Pianist, and Star Torina round out the Honey Fox lineup.

◗ A field of eight filly and mare turf sprint specialists will line up for Friday’s $57,500 main event, to be decided at five furlongs on the grass under mid-level optional claiming conditions. Sweet and Lowdown, who drops out of slightly tougher turf sprints, may prove the horse to beat against a field that also includes top contenders Mosaicist, Slew’s Exchange, Diamond d’Oro, and Revenue.

◗ John Sessa, a longtime owner and breeder on both the Florida and New Jersey circuits, died Tuesday at his home in Davie, Fla. He was 82. Sessa, a local contactor and quarry owner, owned Century Farm in Colts Neck, N.J., as well as a farm in Davie and was the father-in-law of jockey Jose Velez. A funeral service for Sessa will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. David’s Church in Davie.