IEAH Stables’ and Whizway Farms’ Amen Hallelujah put on a dazzling display in her first start on dirt, leaving favored Bickersons in the dust at the top of the lane and romping home for a 6 1/4-length win in the $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Having made her previous seven starts on synthetic surfaces, including a win in the Jan. 16 Santa Ynez (gr. II) in her season debut on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride, Amen Hallelujah was tackling a solid field that included grade II winners Bickersons and Sassy Image, both with stakes wins over the Gulfstream main track last month. Under the handling of Julien Leparoux, the Montbrook filly proved she is a legitimate threat for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) April 30 at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post 1, Amen Hallelujah was away sharply in the Davona Dale but was outhustled for the lead by 13-10 favorite Bickersons, runaway winner of the Forward Gal (gr. II) Jan. 31, who made the front and recorded an opening quarter mile of :24.49. Comic Marvel was also close up in the early going, as was Sassy Image.
Amen Hallelujah moved closer to the front as the pace quickened through a half mile in :47.54. The dark bay/brown filly was now on the heels of Bickersons, and those two began to put distance between themselves and the other four rivals while approaching the turn. Amen Hallelujah, racing on the inside, stuck a head in front at the quarter pole and put away Bickersons by the time they hit the top of the stretch. She extended her advantage through the final furlong and hit the wire in a final time of 1:37.16 over a fast main track.
Joanie's Catch, the Forward Gal runner-up, made a strong late move along the rail to get up for second at 26-1. The other longshot, 15-1 Mambo Fever, was another neck back in third. Bickersons settled for fourth.
“It was a good race for her," Leparoux said of the winner. "She ran very nice and easy today, and she went well over the track. That other filly (Bickersons) is a nice filly, and my filly went up to her real easy and kept going."
Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., Amen Hallelujah improved to 4-1-2 from her eight starts. As a juvenile, she was third in a pair of grade I stakes—the Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland and Hollywood Starlet. She has now earned $312,370.
“I brought her back from California just to run in this race," Dutrow said. "I’ve always thought she’d be better on dirt. She trains better on dirt than the synthetic. I really haven’t thought about what might be next.”
Bred in Florida by Thorobeam Farm, Amen Hallelujah is out of the Concorde’s Tune mare Sara’s Success. She was a $40,000 Keeneland September 2008 yearling sale purchase.
Sent off as the second choice, the winner paid $6, $4, and $3.20. The exacta (1-3) returned $88.20 and the $1 trifecta (1-3-7) was $232.70.
Sassy Image finished fifth while having her three-race win streak snapped, followed by Comic Marvel. Christine Daae and Female Drama were scratched.