03/03/2011 5:18PM

Rematch for five at Gulfstream in Honey Fox


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gulfstream Park’s racing secretary, Dan Bork, has rounded up the usual suspects and then some for Saturday’s $100,000 Honey Fox, which attracted a full field of 12 filly and mare turf specialists, including the first five finishers from the Grade 3 Marshua’s River early in the meet.

Justaroundmidnight rallied from the rear of the pack to run down pacesetter Persuading to win the Marshua’s River by a half-length, with Never Retreat, Cherokee Queen, and Trip for A.J. not far behind. The race’s stature was quickly enhanced after Cherokee Queen came back to capture the Grade 3 Suwannee River and Trip for A.J. returned to win the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf less than one month ago.

Justaroundmidnight returns against her own kind after failing to beat a horse, finishing eighth and last but only 3 1/4 lengths behind Teaks North, taking on males in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. She will have a new rider, with Edgar Prado aboard for the first time for trainer Patrick Biancone in the one mile Honey Fox.

Cherokee Queen found herself a little further back than expected before rallying belatedly to be fourth in the Marshua’s River but tripped out perfectly en route to her two-length win in the Suwannee River. Cherokee Queen found her best stride too late when she ran fifth behind Wasted Tears in the 2010 Honey Fox.

Trip for A.J. found herself chasing a relatively fast pace in the Marshua’s River but showed a new dimension, rating off the leaders before rallying to a game half-length triumph over Askbut I Won’ttell in the 1 1/8-mile Sunshine Millions.

“She’s actually gained a little weight since her last start and worked really well for John the other day,” trainer Milt Wolfson said, referring to jockey John Velazquez, who has been aboard Trip for A.J. in each of her last three starts. “We got lucky she drew a decent post, because it’s such a short run to the first turn going a mile and I didn’t want to get stuck on the outside fence. She’s run well going 7 1/2 furlongs all the way up to a mile and one eighth and is versatile enough to rate if we get a little bit of a fast pace.”

Persuading figures to once again set that pace, having led to deep stretch before finishing second in the Marshua’s River and to the eighth pole before being overtaken by Cherokee Queen in the Suwannee River.

Never Retreat rallied to finish third in the Marshua’s River and second in the Suwannee River and will get a rider switch to Julien Leparoux for the Honey Fox.

Aviate is perhaps the biggest question mark in the race making her U.S. debut for trainer Bill Mott. The English bred filly was a Group 3 winner early at 3 and was good enough to finish mid-pack in the Group 1 English Oaks later that season.

Sweeter Still, Unbridled Essence, Firey Red, Sweetest Song, Back to Bay, Ansong, and Miss Blakely complete the lineup.