Cherokee Queen, Justaroundmidnight Clash In Honey Fox Saturday
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Farnsworth Stables’ 6-year-old mare Cherokee Queen and Mrs. Paul Shanahan’s 4-year-old Irish-bred filly Justaroundmidnight each have won a Graded stakes over the Gulfstream Park turf course at the meet, and will be among the favorites in a field of 12 fillies and mares drawn for Saturday’s $100,000 Honey Fox Stakes (G3).
Jockey Alex Solis gets the return call on Cherokee Queen for trainer Marty Wolfson after they teamed for a two-length victory in the $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (G3) over the course on Feb. 5 after a good try finishing fourth in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) here on Jan. 9 when beaten only 1 ¼ lengths by the winner.
Among several good efforts last year, the daughter of Cherokee Run won the $200,000 Dr. James Penny Stakes at Philadelphia Park in early July after finishing an unlucky fourth in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes on Belmont Day, June 5, when beaten only 1 ¼ lengths for it all by multiple Grade 1 winner Proviso.
Justaroundmidnight won the Marshua’s River at odds of 26-to-1 in her first start since late June at Monmouth Park for trainer Patrick Biancone. The daughter of Danehill Dancer came back against male rivals in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 5 and finished eighth, although beaten only 3 ¼ lengths by the winner in an even effort. Jockey Edgar Prado has the mount.
Other leading contenders in a highly-competitive field include Team Block’s 6-year-old Never Retreat with Julien Leparoux in the saddle for trainer Chris Block and John Velazquez to ride Peter Fuller’s 4-year-old filly Trip for A.J. for trainer Milt Wolfson.
Never Retreat finished a game second in the Marshua’s River, beaten three-quarters of a length by Justaroundmidnight, and third behind Cherokee Queen in the Suwannee River. The daughter of Smart Strike was well-traveled last year, winning races at Fair Grounds, Arlington Park, Kentucky Downs and Canterbury Downs before losing a nose decision in a stakes at Woodbine in late October.
Trip for A. J. also has a stakes victory over the Gulfstream course at the meet with a half-length victory in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf on Jan. 29. The Florida homebred by Trippi has won seven of 14 career starts and ran a close-up fifth in the Marshua’s River, beaten less than two lengths for it all after a solid runner-up effort in the My Charmer Handicap (G3) at Calder in early December.
Trainer Marty Wolfson holds a strong hand with Cherokee Queen on turf and will have the probable favorite if weather conditions were to force the race to the main track with Farnsworth’s 6-year-old Amazing entered to ruin ‘main track only’ with Luis Saez named to ride. The daughter of Greatness finished a game second in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita last out on Jan. 29, beaten only three-quarters of a length by Evening Jewel.
Completing the field for the Honey Fox are David Lanzman and Jason Wood’s Sweeter Still, Red Oak Stable’s Unbridled Essence, Moyglare Stud’s Firey Red, Juddmonte Farms’ Aviate, James Lauffer’s Persuading, Jim Tafel’s Sweetest SongRobert Smithenn’s Bay to Bay, Mueller Thoroughbred Stables’ Ansong and Capitol Hill Thoroughbreds’ Miss Blakely.