Team Block’s Never Retreat, trained by Chris Block and ridden by Julien Leparoux, took over from Persuading at the top of the stretch and went on to win the $100,000 Honey Fox (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a length March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Never Retreat, a 6-year-old mare by Smart Strike—Lisieux, by Steady Growth, covered one mile on the firm course in 1:34.24. Persuading was a neck in front of third-place finisher Aviate, who was making her U.S. debut.
Persuading, second in the Marshua’s River (gr. IIIT) and third in the Suwannee River (gr. IIIT), went to the front under jockey Jesus Castanon and set fractions of :24.37, :47.89, and 1:11.35. But Never Retreat, rated third down the backstretch, moved outside the leader around the final turn before driving away down the stretch.
It was the seventh win in 24 starts for Never Retreat, who was bred in Kentucky by Gerry O’Meara and Stanley Inman. Runner-up in the Suwannee River last out, this was her first graded stakes victory. The dark bay or brown mare has now earned $496,481.
“We bought her privately as a 4-year-old and she was a bit of a task until we got to know her better, but she’s done everything we’ve asked over the last year,” Block said. “We brought the right horses here this winter and they have the right races for them here. We’ll probably look at something at Keeneland for her next.”
The winner paid $8, $4, and $3 as the betting choice in a field of 11.