02/08/2011 3:16PM

Honeymoon Girl taking next step in Gulfstream feature

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – When trainer Chad Brown entered Honeymoon Girl in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf here at Gulfstream Park a couple of weeks ago, he was still uncertain whether to rush his promising but still relatively inexperienced grass filly into stakes company just yet. After Honeymoon Girl drew post position 14, the decision about whether to run her was made.

“I wasn’t sure whether I was going to start her or not, but when she drew post 14, it was a no-brainer to scratch,” said Brown, who trains Honeymoon Girl for Hidden Brook Farm. “I think she’s going to be a stakes filly down the road, so at this point it’s best to just give her enough time and let her take the next step first.”

The next step will be Thursday’s $55,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park, a one-mile test to be decided under second-level optional claiming conditions, which lured a full field of 12 fillies and mares.

Honeymoon Girl began her career at Woodbine as a 2-year-old, winning once in three starts, that victory coming in her only try on grass. A daughter of Sligo Bay, Honeymoon Bay missed her entire 3-year-old campaign before resurfacing here a month ago with Brown to handle first-level allowance competition easily by three widening lengths.

“She was ready to run last fall in New York, and the reason she didn’t start was pretty much weather-related,” said Brown. “We knew what we had when we got down here and I didn’t want to run her for the shorter money at Calder, so I just waited until this meet opened to start her back.”

The Grade 3-placed In the Rough and the stakes-placed Entertaining are among several who could vie for the major prize should Honeymoon Girl not run back to her 2011 debut.

In the Rough has not started since finishing seventh under similar conditions in August at Monmouth Park. She finished third in her previous start after pressing the pace in the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks.

Entertaining takes advantage of the optional claiming clause in the conditions and will be the lone member of the field racing running for a $62,500 claiming price. Entertaining captured her second-level allowance condition over the Calder turf more a year ago. She has won just once since but was third behind Cherokee Queen in Calder’s Hollywood Wildcat last May. Cherokee Queen won the Grade 3 Suwannee River here this past weekend.