Gulfstream park

Channel Lady faces a tough field in the Honey Fox stakes


Special to the Miami Herald

Channel Lady has been a Gulfstream Park star this year with a win and a second-place finish in Grade 3 turf stakes, and will seek to extend that record while facing a strong field Saturday.

She will make her third start of the meet in the $150,000 Honey Fox Stakes (Grade 3) at one mile on turf for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up.

The Todd Pletcher-trained Channel Lady is one of the likely favorites in the nine-horse field along with fellow 4-year-old standouts Centre Court and Samitar.

Centre Court, trained by George “Rusty” Arnold, and Samitar, trained by Chad Brown, are both coming off strong finishes to their 2012 seasons.

Centre Court has not raced since Nov. 17 and Sanitar has not raced since Oct. 13. Both have had several fast recent workouts at Gulfstream’s Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach.

The Honey Fox will be Channel Lady’s third race in a cycle — a factor that many handicappers like.

Channel Lady finished second by a half-length to Hard Not to Like in the Marshua’s River (Grade 3) at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 5. Hard Not to Like is not in the Honey Fox.

On Feb. 9, Channel Lady led almost the entire race and beat Abaco by three-quarters of a length in the Suwannee River (Grade 3) at 1 1/8 miles.

Javier Castellano, Channel Lady’s regular jockey, has the mount.

Centre Court finished 2012 with three victories and two second-place finishes in her last five starts. All were in graded stakes at Saratoga, Churchill Downs and Keeneland..

“She’s right on schedule,” Arnold said. “This is a perfect spot at a mile to bring her back.”

Regular jockey Julien Leparoux will be in from Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., to ride Centre Court.

Samitar began her career in Europe, where she had a win and a second-place finish in Group 1 races before her owners sent her to the United States last summer.

In her first race for Brown, she won the Garden City (Grade 1) at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Belmont Park.

Joel Rosario will ride Samitar for the first time.

Ramon Dominguez, her regular jockey, is sidelined with a fractured skull from a spill on Jan. 18 in a race at Aqueduct.

Brown also trains Pianist, making her second 2013 start. She won a one-mile turf allowance at Gulfstream on Feb. 7.

Pianist, Channel Lady and Frontside can be expected to battle for the early lead.

Centre Court probably will be in the second flight with Kelly’s Landing and Class Included.

Heavenly Landing finished sixth in this year’s Marshua’s River and won that race in 2012.

Class Included will make her first start for trainer Dale Romans and her first at Gulfstream.

Last year, she won five stakes races.

• On Sunday, Gulfstream will have the $150,000 Inside Information Stakes (Grade 2) at seven furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up,

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