Gulfstream Park will be the toast of the thoroughbred horse racing nation this weekend. On Saturday the track's card is highlighted by three consecutive graded stakes races for sophomore runners. Kicking off the fabulous three is the Davona Dale Stakes (gr.2) for three-year-old fillies where leading Kentucky Oaks contender Dancinginherdreams makes her second start of the year.
A field of nine is entered for the Davona Dale, and four of the nine all made their last start in the Forward Gal Stakes (gr.2) at Gulfstream Park on January 30th
. Pomeroy’s Pistol broke her maiden at first asking last year before finishing 5th
in the Sorority Stakes and 3rd
in an allowance race to finish out 2010. She began 2011 with a solid second place finish behind Final Mesa in the Old Hat Stakes (gr.3), finishing ahead of fellow Davona Dale Stakes entrant Roxy Gap. In the Forward Gal Stakes (gr.2) Pomeroy’s Pistol opened up a two length advantage at the top of the stretch after leading most of the way and held off a late charge by Dancingingherdreams to win by ¾ of a length. She has recorded only one work since the Forward Gal Stakes, going 3 furlongs in 36.50.
Dancinginherdreams will be making only the fourth start of her career in the Davona Dale. After winning the first two starts of her career by more than 10 combined lengths, including a 5 ¼ length romp in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr.2), Dancinginherdreams turned in one of the best sophomore losing efforts of the year in the Forward Gal Stakes. Racing towards the rear of the field in the Forward Gal, Dancinginherdreams raced into the stretch 7 wide and proceeded to gun for Pomeroy’s Pistol on the lead. She closed with incredible power and focus to make up almost 10 lengths on the winner, never feeling the whip to get that close. She enters the Davona Dale off a fabulous 4 furlong bullet work at Palm Meadows Training Center in 47.90, more than 3 seconds faster than her 4 furlong work on January 20th.
[At #8 is Dancinginherdreams much too low on the 2011 Kentucky Oaks Contenders community rankings on Horse Racing Nation?]
R Heat Lightning was a big disappointment in her 2011 debut, finishing a dull fourth in the Forward Gal Stakes after receiving a perfect stalking trip throughout. Last year R Heat Lightning won the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes before finishing out the year with a second place finish behind Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Dancinginherdreams may have recorded thebullet work for 4 furlongs on February 21st but R Heat Lightning recorded the 2nd fastest 4 furlong work the next day, going the distance in 47.50, even faster than Dancinginherdreams.
Evil Queen finished third in the Forward Gal Stakes after winning two consecutive races to finish out her 2010 campaign. She finished ahead of R Heat Lightning in the Forward Gal and even though R Heat Lightning was obviously not performing at the same level she did in her last three starts of 2010 she is still a top class filly and a worthy competitor. Evil Queen proved she can run well in graded stakes company but unless she improves by leaps and bounds she will not be winning on Saturday.
Roxy Gap started the year in the Old Hat Stakes (gr.3) after going undefeated in three starts in 2010. After trailing the field in second to last position for most of the race in the Old Hat, Roxy Gap swung wide into the stretch and set her sights on Final Mesa and Pomeroy’s Pistol, closing well to finish about five lengths behind Pomeroy’s Pistol for third. Her three works since the Old Hat have been decent but far from excellent.
Bellaridge last finished 5th in the Sweetest Chant Stakes, far behind a victorious Kathmanblu after defeating Hailey d’Oro in an allowance race at Churchill Downs in late November. She turned in a nice 5 furlong work on February 18th at Gulfstream Park, finishing in 1:01.00.
Oh Carole is undefeated in two starts, the last coming in a 2 ½ length allowance victory at Gulfstream on January 30th. Her works have been very average and she takes a huge step up in class in the Davona Dale. She will have to move up significantly to make an impact in the top three spots Saturday.
Mending Hearts and Hot Summer complete the field. Mending Hearts has raced three times, never finishing worse than third but taking all three tries to finally break her maiden. Hot Summer has won two consecutive races coming into the Davona Dale, a maiden and an allowance race.
This year’s Kentucky Oaks comes down to just two fillies for me at the moment; Kathmanblu and Dancinginherdreams. Dancinginherdreams should easily win the Davona Dale on Saturday. Her works have been superb, her trainer John T. Ward is brimming with confidence and she will only improve off her huge run in the Forward Gal Stakes. She looks like the complete package from where I am sitting, this filly has the potential to go all the way this year. The two toughest competitors to Dancinginherdreams should come from a much improved R Heat Lightning and Pomeroy’s Pistol. As long shots go Roxy Gap stands out above the rest as well as Evil Queen, both fillies have proven their Stakes worthiness.