Surprise Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) winner Pomeroys Pistol figures to get a sterner test from likely favorite Dancinginherdreams and grade I winner R Heat Lightning when the trio battles again in the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 26.
Pomeroys Pistol, who outlasted Dancinginherdreams by three-quarters of a length in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Jan. 30, will need to find an extra furlong this time, farther than she has ever gone before. Amy Tarrant's Florida homebred daughter of Pomeroy also had the advantage of a recent race over the track, a second-place finish in the Old Hat Stakes (gr. II), earlier in the month.
Nine 3-year-old fillies are entered in the Davona Dale, followed on the Gulfstream program by the Hutcheson (gr. II) and Fountain of Youth (gr. II) Stakes for 3-year-old males. The Davona Dale is race 8 with a probable post of 4:23 p.m. EST.
Going into the Forward Gal, Dancinginherdreams had not raced since her 5 1/4-length triumph in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs three months earlier. R Heat Lightning, who ran fourth in the Forward Gal, had not been to the post since her runner-up finish behind Awesome Feather in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
Pomeroys Pistol went on to register her first stakes win in the Forward Gal at 9-1 odds for Tarrant, who also trains the bay filly. Racing at the rail, she took over turning for home and opened up a 3 1/2-length advantage mid-stretch. Though tiring, she held on gamely for jockey Paco Lopez to win in spite of drifting out late.
Dancinginherdreams, meanwhile, raced sixth of seven for the first half-mile, swung wide for the drive, and was gaining rapidly on the winner. R Heat Lightning, winner of last year's Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga and second in Belmont Park's Frizette (gr. I) leading up to the Breeders' Cup, was bumped at the start of the Forward Gal and could not overcome a wide trip while finishing an even fourth, 4 1/2 lengths back.
Ramon Dominguez picks up the mount on Pomeroy's Pistol, replacing Lopez who is out temporarily with an arm injury sustained in a spill last week. Pomeroys Pistol ran three times as a juvenile, breaking her maiden in her debut by 6 3/4 lengths at Monmouth Park last August, and owns a career mark of 2-1-1 in five starts with earnings of $188,900. She breaks from post 9 under 116 pounds.
Dancinginherdreams, a $330,000 Keeneland September yearling owned by John Oxley and trained by John Ward Jr., is considered a leading prospect for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) this spring due to her powerful win in the one-mile Pocahontas at Churchill Downs. The Tapit miss was two-for-two as a juvenile and can atone for her first loss in the Forward Gal. She's stuck with the far outside post and will be guided once again by Julien Leparoux while carrying top weight of 120 pounds.
E. Paul Robsham Stables' R Heat Lightning will also be looking for improvement for trainer Todd Pletcher. The Trippi filly finished worse than second for the first time in her six-race career in the Forward Gal and she leads the field in earnings by a substantial amount with $622,800. John Velazquez retains the mount on R Heat Lightning, who breaks from post 5.
Not to be overlooked in the Davona Dale is the third-place finisher from the Forward Gal, Evil Queen, who outran her 82-1 odds in her first graded stakes start and also her initial try away from Calder Casino and Race Course. Trained by Stanley Gold for owner/breeder Jacks or Better Farm, the daughter of Hear No Evil has a 2-2-3 record in 10 starts.
Melnyk Racing Stable's Roxy Gap, third in the Old Hat in her last start, has won three of four starts for trainer Mark Casse.
Completing the field are Mending Hearts, Oh Carole, Bellaridge, and Hot Summer.
$1250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:23 p.m. EST), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Mending Hearts (KY), J Lezcano, 116, M D Wolfson
2. Hot Summer (VA), J Bravo, 116, D Fawkes
3. Evil Queen (FL), J Sanchez, 116, S I Gold
4. Oh Carole (KY), J Castellano, 116, E Kenneally
5. R Heat Lightning (FL), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher
6. Bellaridge (KY), T Farina, 116, W Bradley
7. Roxy Gap (ON), A O Solis, 118, M E Casse
8. Pomeroys Pistol (FL), R A Dominguez, 116, A Tarrant
9. Dancinginherdreams (KY), J R Leparoux, 120, J T Ward Jr.