09/30/2017 8:30PM

Starship Bonita holds off Dessert Honeys in My Dear Girl Stakes

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Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photos
Starship Bonita prevailed in Saturday's My Dear Girl, giving her a sweep of the final two legs of the filly division of the Florida Sire Stakes series.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In what turned out to be a carbon copy of the seven-furlong Susan’s Girl Stakes four weeks earlier, Starship Bonita held off a late surge from a wide running Dessert Honeys to register a neck victory in Saturday’s $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the final leg of the filly division of the Florida Sire Stakes series. The final margin between the pair was a head in the Susan’s Girl.

The outcome of the My Dear Girl may have been determined at the break after Starship Bonita left the gate in full flight from her extreme outside post while Dessert Honeys was pinched back and steadied sharply to last following the start.

Starship Bonita cleared all but the pacesetting Regal Romance into the opening bend before easing back several lengths off the lead in the run down the backstretch. Starship Bonita got pinched briefly looking for room to launch her bid into the stretch, was able to split rivals at the top of the lane, forged to command near midstretch before holding off the final surge from Dessert Honeys.

Starship Bonita had to withstand a claim of foul lodged by Eddie Kenneally, the trainer of Dessert Honeys who watched the race from Kentucky, alleging interference after the break. The claim was quickly dismissed.

Dessert Honeys was bet to 4-5 despite entering the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl as a maiden. She raced near the rear of the field after being steadied at the break, swung six wide while commencing her bid on the final turn, drifted some and raced greenly while rallying down the center of the course, and fell just short of catching Starship Bonita once again.   

Awesome Mass benefitted from a dream trip, saving ground throughout before slipping through to take a short lead after six furlongs. But she had little left for the final furlong, weakening steadily to finish 3 3/4 lengths farther back in third.

Starship Bonita, a 2-year-old daughter of Gone Astray, is trained by Steve Dwoskin for his principal client, the Starship Stables of owner Lawrence Leavy, who is also known nationally as the Marlins Man. The winner completed the distance in a final time that was adjusted after the race to 1:48.20.  

Starship Bonita was ridden to victory by Carlos Montalvo and  paid $11.00.  She was purchased for $75,000 at the OBS March sale,  with the $240,000 winner’s share swelling her career earnings to $374,000 from just four starts.

“I told the rider to break her well then sit back and wait and wait,” said Dwoskin, who had never won a Sire Stakes until the Susan’s Girl earlier this month. “I wasn’t really surprised to see her that close and the pace was slow, so I knew we were in pretty good shape.  Down the stretch, I saw [Dessert Honeys] coming again and I was just hoping I’d trained her to finish well enough that we could hold her off again.”

Dwoskin said he is uncertain what would be next for Starship Bonita.

“I don’t have the horse people might think I have because of the Stallion Stakes,” said Dwoskin. “So we’ll see how she comes out of the race and then pick a spot where I think I can win. Honestly, I think she’s probably more of a seven-furlong horse than a mile and a sixteenth. And the Sire Stakes is great, because it gives us an opportunity that is almost scary, to win this type of money.”