Cherokee Queen tough off latest
By Mike Watchmaker
Honey Fox Stakes
Five in the main body of this race come out of the Marshua’s River Stakes, including that race’s winner, Quiet Harbor, and dead-heat runner up Romacaca. But even though Quiet Harbor is on a big roll – the Marshua’s River was her fifth straight victory – she has a brutal post position to deal with here, having to break from the 13 hole with a short run to the first turn. And Romacaca, who set the pace in the Marshua’s River before being nipped by Quiet Harbor, has more pace pressure to deal with this time, namely Wasted Tears, who has absolutely no choice but to go from the 14 hole.
Beyond that, I question just how strong a race the Marshua’s River really was. This is something every handicapper should ask of any race that has only two lengths separating the first and the eighth finishers, as was the case in the Marshua’s River. The only one coming out of the Marshua’s River who I could possibly give a pass to was Backseat Rhythm. Although I admit I liked Backseat Rhythm in the Marshua’s River and was disappointed when she didn’t kick home and finished seventh, she had a terrible post that day and was coming off a seven-month absence. But the one-mile distance of this race just seems too short for Backseat Rhythm.
I wanted a new face in this spot, and that is Cherokee Queen. Cherokee Queen is stepping up, but the 93 Beyer Speed Figure she earned winning an optional claimer most recently was three points higher than Quiet Harbor’s winning Beyer in the Marshua’s River. Cherokee Queen finished strongly in her last two starts – she went her final five-sixteenths last time out in 28.68 seconds and went her last quarter-mile when second two starts back in 22.10 – and her closing style fits the anticipated pace scenario. Moreover, Cherokee Queen really likes the Gulfstream turf course. Not only has she finished second or better in all four of her starts over the surface, the three highest Beyers of her career have come on Gulfstream’s turf.