Gaviola has seen her share of bad luck in her past few outings, but the 4-year-old daughter of Cozzene is looking to change that in Saturday's $250,000 New York Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park.
In her first start of 2001, Gaviola was overtaken by rival Spook Express, who she will meet in the 1 1/4 mile event to be contested on the inner turf course, after getting through honest fractions. Recently she was shipped to Monmouth Park where she tired to be a distant seventh after chasing the pace in the Matchmaker.
Although her recent efforts have been worrisome, Gaviola is back at home, has Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey aboard, and figures to be the controlling speed in the race. Gaviola will only have to carry 119 pounds for the New York, three pounds more than Spook Express, but it will be her first attempt at 10 furlongs.
Kinloch Enterprises' Spook Express has run once since defeating Gaviola, a third-place effort to champion Perfect Sting in Hialeah's Black Helen. Trainer Tom Skiffington has kept the 7-year-old South African mare fresh, not racing her since April 14th.
Trainer Michael Dickinson will ship in Melody Queen, who also finished ahead of Gaviola last time with a runner-up effort in the Matchmaker. Her two most recent stakes wins came in listed races at Laurel last summer.
The field for the New York includes: Windsong (Edgar Prado, 113); Gaviola (Bailey, 119); Spook Express (Mike Smith, 116); Jazz (Jose Espinoza, 113); Melody Queen (Richard Migliore, 113); England's Legend (Corey Nakatani, 112); and Playact (John Velazquez, 114).