Payton d'Oro and Bon Jovi Girl, who took turns beating each other in their last two starts, will do battle once again in the $250,000 Delaware Oaks (gr. II) July 18 at Delaware Park, where they will meet a solid group of 3-year-old fillies.
A 1 1/16-mile test on the main track, the Delaware Oaks drew a field of seven that also includes Livin Lovin, winner of the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last November, and Malibu Prayer, a distant runner-up to Rachel Alexandra in the June 27 Mother Goose (gr. I). Post time for the feature is set for 3:57 p.m. EDT.
Trained by Larry Jones for John Ferris and Mike Pressley, Payton d’Oro went wire-to-wire to take the May 15 Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico, defeating Bon Jovi Girl by 1 1/4 lengths. It was the fourth consecutive victory for the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro—Jealous and Jaded, by Jade Humor, who also scored in the Instant Racing Stakes at Oaklawn Park in April.
But Bon Jovi Girl, trained and co-owned by Tim Ritchey, ended Payton d’Oro’s win streak June 20 on the Delaware Park slop when she took over after six furlongs and rolled to a convincing eight-length win in the Susan’s Girl Stakes. It was the first stakes win in four tries this season for the Malibu Moon filly, who won the Fairway and Blue Hen stakes as a juvenile – both at Delaware. Ritchey won this event in 2007 with Moon Catcher.
Terry Thompson and Jose Caraballo, the regular riders on Payton d’Oro and Bon Jovi Girl, respectively, have the mounts once again. Payton d’Oro will carry top weight of 122 pounds, two more than Bon Jovi Girl.
“It looks like hopefully we will have a good weekend with a dry track and all that,” said Jones, who won this race last year with Proud Spell. “I do not think (Payton d’Oro) really cared for the slop the last time out. So we are hoping that getting back on the fast track will be what we need to make our race. She is training very well and she came out of the last race in very good shape and we looking forward to see what she can do this weekend.”
Both Payton d’Oro and Bon Jovi Girl turned in bullet works at Delaware in their final Oaks preparations.
Puglisi Racing and Woodfield Racing’s Livin Lovin won the one-mile Tempted by 4 1/4 lengths in November, the final start of a juvenile season in which she was 2-2-0 from four starts. Trained by Steve Klesaris, the Birdstone filly came back from a seven-month layoff in the June 6 Acorn (gr. I) at Belmont, where despite breaking slowly she ran fourth under Ramon Dominguez, just 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Gabby’s Golden Girl. Dominguez will have the mount once more.
Malibu Prayer, a Virginia homebred for Edward Evans, was unraced as a 2-year-old, but has hit the board in all five starts this year. She broke her maiden at third asking by 13 lengths April 17 at Aqueduct, then followed up with a 7 1/4-length romp in allowance company June 2 at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack. Last out in the June 27 Mother Goose at Belmont, Malibu Prayer set a quick pace for six furlongs, but was then was swallowed by Rachel Alexandra, who went on to win by a record 19 1/4 lengths. Chris DeCarlo will be in the irons for trainer Todd Pletcher.
"She ran okay in the Mother Goose," said Pletcher. "She was a little bit headstrong early on. She went extremely fast fractions, but no matter how you slice it, she was going to finish second that day. She acts like she has some quality. I think she is still maturing, especially mentally. We have always thought she has a lot of ability and she is starting to put it all together. I would anticipate she will run a competitive race this weekend."