She couldn't catch Live Lively in her seasonal debut five weeks earlier, but Dreaming of Julia figures to be much tighter for their next engagement in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) March 30 at Gulfstream Park.
Grade I winner Dreaming of Julia, trained by Todd Pletcher for owner/breeder Stonestreet Stables, is the 2-1 favorite in Gulfstream Park Oaks. Live Lively is 3-1 along with Emollient, while the comebacking Cue the Moon is 4-1 on the morning line.
No matter how the 1 1/8-mile test of 3-year-old fillies turns out, it figures to produce one of the favorites for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 3 at Churchill Downs. The race is worth 100 points to the winner toward a start in that historic evrent.
Dreaming of Julia and Live Lively were each assigned top weight of 122 pounds for the Gulfstream Park Oaks, second of six graded stakes on the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) program. The race is carded as the eighth with a scheduled post time of 3:56 p.m. EDT. Six were entered.
Dreaming of Julia, a daughter of A.P. Indy out of the two-time grade I winner Dream Rush, by Wild Rush, won the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) by a head last fall at Belmont Park. She had been freshened for nearly four months following a third-place effort in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) when she returned to face Live Lively in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 23.
Lee Lewis' Live Lively, an 11 1/4-length allowance winner prior to the Davona Dale for trainer Mark Hennig, got the jump in the 1 1/16-mile test. She opened up on the short field by three lengths on the backstretch and held sway over Dreaming of Julia through the lane for 1 1/2-length triumph, winning in a time of 1:42.30.
Dreaming of Julia, made the 9-10 choice in her return, raced in second all the way around but could not get on even terms with the winner. Given a couple of weeks to recover, she has posted three half-mile breezes at Palm Meadows Training Center for Pletcher since the Davona Dale.
The bay filly won the first three races of her career, capped by the Frizette, but has lost twice since then. John Velazquez, who has ridden Dreaming of Julia in all of her previous races, has the call from post 5.
Hennig has also put three half-mile breezes into Live Lively, a daughter of Medaglia d'Oro who carries a three-race winning streak into the Gulfstream Oaks. The lightly raced filly, a $160,000 Keeneland September yearling graduate, has not lost since finishing third in her debut versus maidens at Belmont last June.
Rajiv Maragh picks up the mount on Live Lively Saturday from post 3 as her regular rider Joel Rosario will be in Dubai to ride Animal Kingdom in the $10 million World Cup (UAE-I).
Juddmonte Farms' Emollient made a successful return to action with a victory in an allowance/optional claiming event over a sloppy Gulfstream main track Feb. 16 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The Empire Maker filly had last race Nov. 24, finishing second as the 4-5 choice in the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Emollient, with two wins and two seconds from four lifetime starts, is to be ridden for the first time by Jose Lezcano from outside post 6.
Cue the Moon is an intriguing possibility for Spendthrift Farm and trainer James Bond. The Malibu Moon miss has raced just twice, breaking her maiden at first asking at Saratoga Race Course Sept. 2. In her follow-up race, The Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 4, she ran second by a neck to My Happy Face.
"She's a really big filly and just needed some time to grow up the rest of the way," said Bond. "I've got a pretty good campaign going for her this year so I wanted to put her away and give her a little rest and come out on Saturday. She's been training wonderfully; she's a real McCoy."
Rosie Napravnik has the ride from the inside post.
Completing the field for the Gulfstream Oaks are Catalyst Stable and partners' Kimberly Jean with Corey Lanerie aboard for trainer Ken McPeek, and Chiefswood Stable's Original Script, to be ridden by Elvis Trujillo for trainer Paul Attard.
Kimberly Jean is a daughter of More Than Ready that ran well to finish second behind the Mott-trained filly Close Hatches in a March 10 allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Original Script is a Canadian homebred by Malibu Moon making her first start since finishing second in the Ontario Lassie Stakes at Woodbine Dec. 9.
$300, Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II, Race 8, 3:56 p.m), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Cue the Moon (KY), R Napravnik, 116, H J Bond
2. Original Script (ON), E Trujillo, 116, P Attard
3. Live Lively (KY), R Maragh, 122, M A Hennig
4. Kimberly Jean (KY), C J Lanerie, 116, K G McPeek
5. Dreaming of Julia (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher
6. Emollient (KY), J Lezcano, 117, W I Mott