HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Moyglare Stud Farm’s Celestine posted her second consecutive victory in the Grade 2, $300,000 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park on Saturday afternoon after leading her six rivals on a merry chase in the one-mile turf race for older fillies and mares.
The 32nd running of the Honey Fox provided the 5-year-old with millionaire status, as her earnings swelled to $1,069,655 after the victory.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Christophe Clement, Celestine set the pace and was allowed to sett tepid fractions of 24.45 and 49.01 for the opening half-mile.
Mississippi Delta, who saved ground running in third down the backstretch, was tipped to the outside in the stretch by Jose Lezcano and was in perfect position to reel in Celestine, the 1-2 favorite. Celestine had plenty left in the tank, though, and scooted away to post a 1 1/4-length win.
“She was the best filly. She ran a great race,” said Clement, who won the Honey Fox for the first time in his career. “You’re not going to beat this filly if she’s the first one to dictate [the pace]. She’s nice. I thought she was fitter today [than her last race]. She trained better. She was tighter and she ran great.”
Clement said he will target Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Just a Game on June 10, a race that the mare won last year for her former connections.
When the gates sprung open in the Honey Fox, Mississippi Delta made for the lead, but then Lezcano proceeded to allow Ortiz to take the initiative going into the first turn.
“It was great. I broke well, but the No. 6 horse looked like he wanted the lead, so I gave it to him,” Ortiz commented. “Then [Lezcano] looked back at me and he gave it back to me and I appreciated it. We were going slow and I didn’t hesitate to take it back. I took the lead again, and from the 3/8 pole to the wire, she ran fast.”
Mississippi Delta held for second, one length in front of the 7-2 second choice, Linda. Josdesanimaux, Lori’s Store, and Dad’s Princess completed the order of finish.
Celestine, a daughter of Scat Daddy, completed the mile distance in 1:35.19 over a firm course. The winner’s time for her final eighth of a mile was a snappy 11.26.
Upon the completion of her 2016 campaign, which included a 3 1/2-length victory in the Honey Fox, Celestine was acquired by Moyglare Stud Farm from Keeneland’s November sale for $2.55 million.
In her first start for her new connections, Celestine won the Sand Springs Stakes, the local prep for the Honey Fox, four weeks ago.
Celestine returned $2.60, $2.40, and $2.10. Mississippi Delta brought back $5.60 and $3.60, while Linda paid $2.20 to show.
Source: Gulfstream Park