03/14/2013 4:03PM

Gulfstream Park: Samitar and Pianist make strong pair in Honey Fox

Barbara D. Livingston
Samitar is the lone Grade 1 winner in the Honey Fox, having won the Garden City.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Chad Brown, who has a seemingly endless supply of talented turf horses in his barn, will hold the upper hand Saturday at Gulfstream Park when he sends out top contenders Samitar and Pianist against a very strong field in the $150,000 Honey Fox. The Grade 2 Honey Fox will be decided at one mile on the grass.

Samitar is the lone Grade 1 winner in the lineup, having captured the Garden City in just her second U.S. appearance late last summer at Belmont Park. An English-bred daughter of Rock of Gibraltar, Samitar also won the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh shortly before joining Brown’s barn in July. She closed out her very successful 3-year-old campaign finishing fourth behind stablemate Dayatthespa in the Grade 1 QE II Cup at Keeneland.

“She couldn’t be doing any better,” said Brown. “A mile to a mile and a sixteenth seems to be her distance. It’s her first start of the season, so she doesn’t have the recency under her belt, but she’s training very well and she’s a proven Grade 1 horse. She was a victim of a slow pace in the QE II, and after the race she appeared to be a tired horse, so we gave her some time off and she’s wintered very well.”

Pianist is coming off a popular 1 3/4-length optional-claiming win on the grass in her first local start and is now perfect in four starts at a mile. Pianist has been favored in all eight career starts but figures to offer a little more value trying Grade 2 company for the first time in the Honey Fox.

“All her wins at a mile, she loves firm turf, she loves Gulfstream – so this is the time to try her back in a graded stakes,” said Brown.

Centre Court, Channel Lady, and Namaskara may give the Brown duo their stiffest challenges.

Centre Court finished second, a half-length in front of Samitar, in the QE II and like that rival is making her first start of the year for trainer Rusty Arnold. Centre Court won a pair of Grade 2 stakes last year at 3, including Churchill Downs’ Mrs. Revere to close out the season.

Channel Lady has won 4 of her last 6 starts, posting her first graded win after leading throughout to register a three-quarter-length decision over Abaco in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River five weeks ago.

Namaskara steps back into graded stakes company for the second time after rallying to a one length mid-level optional-claiming victory on Feb. 3.

Completing the field are graded stakes winners Class Included and Heavenly Landing along with Star Torina, who is riding a two race win streak.

Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
It's 5:52 pm. I just collected $325 on my $50/$100 play on Centre Court! How did you guys do??? LOL!!!
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
All Right........ya picked a $6.20 winner.....................don't spend it all in one place.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Centre Court, $50 win, $100 place...
Mark More than 1 year ago
leaning Pianist . hoping for the 5-1 . more like 7-2 ?
Dave More than 1 year ago
1) Channel Lady 2) Centre Court 3) Class Included ........... C, there you have it!!!
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Maybe we could get Cody, Donnie and Lonnie Meche to ride them..............m, I think!!!
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
I warned everybody after the Marshua's River to follow Channel Lady to this race. She is cutting back in distance and will most likely be forwardly placed again. If left unattended she could be very dangerous on or near the front. I respect the Brown entries and they probably look best on paper but Channel Lady is primed for her last go around at Gulfstream this Winter and would be no surprise to duplicate her feat of five weeks ago. Bet twice as much if Javier Castellano accepts the call.