Christine Daae has no graded earnings and has yet to tackle stakes company, but that has not stopped bettors and Turf writers from making her one of the favorites for next month’s Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
On March 20, the talented daughter of Giant's Causeway will try to prove she is worthy of the lofty expectations when she faces five accomplished rivals including graded stakes winners Amen Hallelujah and Devil May Care in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. The nine-furlong Bonnie Miss is one of five graded stakes on the Gulfstream calendar highlighted by the $750,000 Florida Derby (gr. I).
Owned by Michael Imperio and Kona Stables, and trained by Patrick Biancone, locally-based Christine Daae has been very impressive in both starts as a 3-year-old, breaking her maiden by almost nine lengths Jan. 15, then returning to Gulfstream Feb. 28 in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race to score by 2 3/4 lengths under new rider Corey Nakatani. Biancone chose that spot for her instead of the $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) the day before because he wanted to test his stable star at two turns. She passed with flying colors.
After the allowance win, in which she was ridden out to the wire, bettors made Christine Daae the 7-1 third choice amongst individual horses in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool that ended March 7. Biancone also nominated the chestnut filly to the Florida Derby, but decided to take the conservative route and keep her against the same sex.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and out of the Dehere mare Descapate, Christine Daae was a $100,000 Keeneland September 2008 yearling sale purchase. She will again have Nakatani aboard.
IEAH Stables’ and Whizway Farms’ Amen Hallelujah may have benefitted from Christine Daae’s absence in the Feb. 27 Davona Dale, as she cruised to a 6 1/4-length victory in the one-mile race. She earned an impressive Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for that effort and was made the 6-1 second choice in the Oaks Future Wager. Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., the daughter of Montbrook has a significant class edge over Christine Daae, having made her last four starts in grade I or grade II company while hitting the board in all of them.
In her first start of the season, Amen Hallelujah won the Jan. 16 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface. The Davona Dale was her dirt debut after making her first seven starts on synthetics. The Florida-bred filly turned in her final work for the Bonnie Miss on turf, which Dutrow said is probably her best surface. Julien Leparoux will keep the mount.
Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care is the lone grade I winner in the field, having earned that distinction by taking the Frizette Stakes by a head last fall at Belmont Park. But the Malibu Moon filly has turned in two poor efforts in a row, beginning with an 11th-place finish in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in her 2009 finale at Santa Anita. In her 3-year-old debut, Devil May Care was a disappointing fifth as the odds-on favorite in the Feb. 20 Silverbulletday (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. The bay filly was fractious in the starting gate and tired badly in the stretch after a wide trip.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Devil May Care has worked twice at Palm Meadows in South Florida since her last effort.
Invading from California for the Bonnie Miss is C.R.K. Stable’s Switch with jockey Tyler Baze coming along for the ride for trainer John Sadler. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Quiet American has made three starts, winning her debut at Hollywood Park in December, finishing third to Amen Hallelujah in the Santa Ynez, and third last out in the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) Feb. 13, beaten a half-length by Blind Luck.
$200,000 Bonnie Miss (gr. II, Race 7, 4:11 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Danny's Friend (KY), E O Nunez, 116, F G Warren
2. Switch (KY), T Baze, 116, J W Sadler
3. Devil May Care (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher
4. Joanie's Catch (FL), P Lopez, 116, B R Rose
5. Amen Hallelujah (FL), J R Leparoux, 122, R E Dutrow, Jr.
6. Christine Daae (KY), C S Nakatani, 116, P L Biancone