Grade II winner Justwhistledixie, bidding for her fifth consecutive win, is strictly the horse to beat in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park March 27.
The 1 1/8-mile main track clash, a South Florida preview of potential Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) contenders, attracted six 3-year-old fillies. It is the first of five graded stakes to be run over the three-day Florida Derby (gr. I) weekend.
Julien Leparoux rides Justwhistledixie for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, replacing regular rider Alan Garcia, who will be in Dubai over the weekend.
A $425,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Dixie Union, Justwhistledixie is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and partners. The dark bay filly's winning streak includes three stakes wins that began at Aqueduct late last year in the Love Affair. That was followed by a win in the six-furlong Ruthless Jan. 4.
After spending the remainder of the winter season at Palm Meadows, Justwhistledixie made her graded stakes debut winning the one-mile Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) by 3 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream March 1. She will be tried around two turns for the first time in the Bonnie Miss. Her performance in the Davona Dale obviously made a big impression, as she was made the 5-2 favorite in the initial Churchill Downs Kentucky Oaks Future Wager over Rachel Alexandra and Stardom Bound.
Justwhistledixie, who began her career with a pair of third-place efforts before breaking her maiden at Belmont Park last October, has won four of six lifetime and $217,927.
Katherine Ball’s lightly-raced Gatorette is certain to draw attention with Eibar Coa aboard for trainer David Fawkes. The gray/roan daughter of Distorted Humor bids for her third victory in as many career starts. A $130,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, she won her two races at this meet, by 7 1/4 and 7 3/4 lengths. Gatorette stretches out from an allowance win at 7 1/2 furlongs.
Edward P. Evans’ 3-year-old homebred filly Casanova Move finished a clear second to Justwhistledixie in the Davona Dale and the daughter of Langfuhr gets another chance with Jose Lezcano aboard for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. In her only previous attempt at two turns, Casanova Move finished seventh on a yielding turf in the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park in October.
Maiden winner Suz Slew, Hopeful Image, and Shared Account complete the field.
Striking Dancer, expected to run in the Bonnie Miss after an impressive turf allowance win in her seasonal bow Feb. 25, will miss the race.
“She came out of her workout last week with a small issue and will have to pass on the Bonnie Miss,” trainer Ken McPeek said.
$200,00 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Casanova Move (VA), 114, Jose Lezcano
2. Suz Slew (KY), 114, John R. Velazquez
3. Gatorette (FL), 116, Eibar Coa
4. Hopeful Image (KY), 116, Rene R. Douglas
5. Shared Account (KY), 116, Jeremy Rose
6. Justwhistledixie (KY), 122, Julien R. Leparoux