Live Lively announced her presence on the Kentucky Oaks trail in a huge way with a front-running win over heavily favored Dreaming of Julia in the G2 Davona Dale. With all but Julia coming into the race off a win, it truly could have been any filly’s race despite the class divide between Julia and the rest of the field. But at the break, it became clear that early speed would reign supreme.
Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Live Lively had things all her way. With only five fillies in the field, being drawn to the outside of the field had no affect whatsoever on the Medaglia d’Oro filly who was extremely quick out of the gate. Under Joel Rosario, Live Lively was able to clear her rivals and move closer to the rail. She quickly opened up a two to three length lead on the rest of the field and was never in any danger despite John Velazquez’s best efforts aboard Julia. Private Ensign ran third by daylight, Lady Banks ran fourth, and known closer Twice Told Tale was eased in the stretch.
Equally impressive as the win itself was Live Lively’s final time. She stopped the clock in 1.42:30, less than half a second off the track record for a mile and a sixteenth set by Itsmyluckyday in the G3 Holy Bull earlier in the meet. Live Lively’s winning stakes debut made her 3 for 4 life time for trainer Mark Hennig and owner Lee Lewis.
After Dreaming of Julia’s loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, all trainer Todd Pletcher could think about was a second chance. The A.P. Indy filly either set or pressed the pace in her first three career starts, all wins, but she ended up stalking the pace in the Juvenile Fillies. The change in tactics over a speed favoring track did the then undefeated filly no good. With that in mind, I expected Julia to be closer to the pace in the Davona Dale, but by the half mile call it was clear that today’s race was mirroring the Juvenile Fillies and that the end result would be the same. She managed to get within about a length of Live Lively but could not get any closer as Live Lively pulled away again to win by a length and a half.
Dreaming of Julia will likely have another shot at Live Lively as both fillies are expected to return in the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30. Also likely for that race is Bill Mott’s recent allowance winner Emollient. Both Hennig and Pletcher were pleased with their fillies’ effort.