A solid field of eight 3-year-old fillies, many of them with an eye on the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), will line up against one another in the $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Headlining the one-mile Davona Dale is George and Lori Hall’s Bickersons, who romped by seven lengths in the Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) over the same Gulfstream strip on Jan. 31 while soundly defeating champion 2-year-old filly She Be Wild. Carrying top weight of 122 pounds and one of the likely favorites is Sassy Image, entering off three consecutive stakes wins for trainer Dale Romans.
Lightly raced but good-looking filly Christine Daae will also garner a lot of support in the Davona Dale. The daughter of Giant's Causeway rolled by nearly nine lengths while breaking her maiden at Gulfstream last month for trainer Patrick Biancone. Christine Daae has been working superbly leading up to her first stakes test.
Post time is set for 4:43 p.m. EST for Gulfstream’s feature. Also on the card are the Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT) for older turf horses and the Sabin Stakes (gr. III) for fillies and mares on the main track.
Bred in Ontario by Robert G. Harvey, Bickersons made four consecutive starts on synthetic surfaces prior to the Forward Gal, including a win in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 22 and a well-beaten fifth-place finish in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) when closing out her 2-year-old season the following month. In the Forward Gal, at seven furlongs, the dark bay filly stalked the early pace, took over at the half-mile marker, and sprinted clear of the field for her first graded stakes win.
Bickersons, a daughter of Silver Deputy—Dancehall Floozy, by Paramount Jet, will break from post 4. Trainer Kelly Breen assigned Joe Bravo to ride once again.
Also returning from the Forward Gal is runner-up Joanie's Catch, a 51-1 longshot from the barn of Barry Rose. The daughter of First Tour has been second in her last three tries, all in stakes company. Paco Lopez has the mount.
Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image made a name for herself when winning the Pocahontas (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in November, then came back less than four weeks later to coast to an easy win in the two-turn Golden Rod (gr. II).
A daughter of Broken Vow, Sassy Image picked up right where she left off in her 3-year-old debut on Jan. 17 at Gulfstream when rolling to a 4 1/2-length romp as the odds-on choice in the Sweetest Chant Stakes on the Gulfstream slop. Robby Albarado retains the mount.
Michael Imperio and Kona Stables’ Christine Daae dazzled when scoring by 8 3/4 lengths in her maiden win on Jan. 15. The chestnut filly looked very professional in the runaway victory, sitting just off the pace before taking over just beyond the half-mile pole. She finished up the seven furlongs in a lighting fast 1:21.67, also under Bravo. Replacing Bravo in the irons will be veteran rider Corey Nakatani, and they drew post 6.
Since her maiden win, Christine Daae has turned in three works, the last one coming on Feb. 23 when being timed in :59.40 for five furlongs.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Christine Daae is out of the Dehere mare Descapate. She was purchased for $100,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Christine Daae was also entered in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race Feb. 28 at Gulfstream.
Making her first start on dirt is Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) winner Amen Hallelujah from the barn of Rick Dutrow Jr. Owned by IEAH Stables and Whizway Farms, the Montbrook filly earned her first stakes win in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez on Jan. 16 after running third in a pair of grade I races as a 2-year-old. Bred in Florida by Thorobeam Farm, Amen Hallelujah has been working steadily at Gulfstream since shipping in from California last month. Eclipse Award winning rider Julien Leparoux will ride.
$150,000 Davona Dale (gr. II, Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Amen Hallelujah (FL), J R Leparoux, 118, R E Dutrow, Jr.
2. Female Drama (KY), R Maragh, 116, A J Sciametta, Jr.
3. Joanie's Catch (FL), P Lopez, 120, B R Rose
4. Bickersons (ON), J Bravo, 118, K J Breen
5. Comic Marvel (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, W I Mott
6. Christine Daae (KY), C S Nakatani, 116, P L Biancone
7. Mambo Fever (VA), J Rose, 116, A W Dutrow
8. Sassy Image (KY), R Albarado, 122, D L Romans