01/06/2005 1:00AM

'Honor' back in stakes


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Beautiful Honor, who turned in one of the most impressive performances of the new meeting last out Dec. 18, moves back into stakes company Saturday, when she tops a field of 14 fillies and mares in the $60,000 Minaret Stakes at six furlongs.

Coming off a four-month layoff, Beautiful Honor romped home by 9 3/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance prep. Ridden by Jesus Castanon, Beautiful Honor sprinted clear early, ripped through a half-mile in 45.76 seconds, then drew away through the lane, well clear of place horse Romancin Dixie. Beautiful Honor finished in 1:04.68.

was sidelined after her race Aug. 29, when she faded to sixth in the late stages of the Golden Or Stakes over a sloppy strip at Calder. Before that effort, she had the lead to the final strides of the 5 1/2-furlong Unique Type Stakes at Calder on Aug. 13 before losing by a neck to Sea Span.

Trainer Ray Tamargo has again named Castanon to ride Beautiful Honor, who will be coupled with Sorbet, who has two wins and a second against allowance company in her last three starts.

Beautiful Honor may receive her biggest challenge from Slews Final Answer. Away from the races from June to October, Slews Final Answer returned Oct. 2 to win the Ready Jet Go Stakes at The Meadowlands, then came back Nov. 13 to be second in the Montclair Stakes there. Most recently, Slews Final Answer stalked the early leaders in the Connies Magic on Dec. 13, but had to settle for third.

Jockey Jose Ferrer will ride Slews Final Answer, who is coupled with Kuanyan, who finished second in the Pocahontas Stakes at Calder in her last start.

Romancin Dixie, who has won three times over the Tampa strip, was coming off a six-month layoff when second to Beautiful Honor on Dec. 18. A long-striding daughter of Dove Hunt, Romancin Dixie should appreciate the added sixteenth in the Minaret. Derek Bell returns aboard Romancin Dixie.