Head to Head: Davona Dale is prep for Kentucky Oaks

Head to Head: Davona Dale is prep for Kentucky Oaks
Photo: Gonzalo Anteliz Jr. / Eclipse Sportswire

Gulfstream Park’s $200,000 Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes, carded for a flat mile, attracted a field of 10 fillies led by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Leave No Trace.

Half the field wheels back from last month’s Forward Gal (G3), including the top four finishers that day. The first- through fifth-place finishers will receive 2023 Kentucky Oaks points on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale.

Since 2000, Forward Gal winners Tonalist’s Shape, Cathryn Sophia, Onlyforyou, and Bsharpsonata all went on to win the Davona Dale. Cathryn Sophia also went on to win the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and is the only Davona Dale winner to do so.

Post time for the Davona Dale, the 12th race on Saturday’s card, is 4:37 p.m. EST.

Ashley Tamulonis of From Coast to Coast and Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power weed out the pretenders from the contenders.



1.  Atomically (8-1)

By Girvin, Atomically was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and third as the favorite in the Forward Gal (G3). That was her first race in three months, so she can be forgiven for needing to knock the rust off. Trainer Todd Pletcher is winning at a 25 percent clip with runners second off the layoff, 55 percent in the money, and at a 22 percent rate with runners stretching out from a sprint to a route, 58 percent in the money. Edgar Perez, who was aboard for her first three starts, jumps back in the irons. Contender.


Atomically had a few problems in the Forward Gal Stakes. She was off a tick slow and stuck three wide in traffic much of the race. The Pletcher trainee had to go five wide for running room around the turn then drifted out more under a left-handed crop. Once Jose Ortiz stopped using the crop and started riding, Atomically focused on catching Undervalued Asset, the horse in front of her. Girvin’s daughter fired a second-to-last four-furlong bullet and moved easily under wraps during the work. The Forward Gal was a decent effort for her first start off the layoff, and Ashley gave you the trainer stats. Contender.

2.  Infinite Diamond (10-1)

By Bee Jersey, Infinite Diamond has proven to be a Gulfstream specialist. The filly is 3: 2-1-0 at the South Florida track and 2: 0-0-0 elsewhere, including a mind-boggling 73-length defeat in the Alcibiades (G1) after being eased in the stretch while already at least 33 lengths out of it. She was given three months off after that and returned a winner in the Cash Run at Gulfstream on New Year’s Day, earning a career-best 94 Brisnet Speed Rating. The filly does her best running on or closely pressing the pace, so look for Jose Ortiz, who was aboard for the first time in the Cash Run, to gun her from the gate to secure a good spot up front. Trainer Patrick Biancone is winning at a 22 percent clip with runners off a 46-90 day layoff (40 percent in the money). Long-shot alert.

After Infinite Diamond blew away a field of maidens by 14 lengths, Patrick Biancone got ambitious and sent her to Keeneland for the Alcibiades. She couldn’t keep up and had to be eased. After a well-needed break, the daughter of Met Mile (G1) winner Bee Jersey captured the Cash Run Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths. Infinite Diamond posted a sharp pre-race three-furlong bullet to hone her speed, and she owns one of the highest speed ratings in the field. She could follow in the hoofprints of Kathleen O., who pulled off last year’s Cash Run-Davona Dale double. Contender.

3.  Red Carpet Ready (2-1)

Red Carpet Ready has been just that, dashing off to three straight victories in as many starts. Interestingly, she has never been favored in any start, including going off at 37-1 in her debut. The Oscar Performance filly has earned speed ratings in the 90s in each start, including at 97 in the Forward Gal (G3) last out. Red Carpet Ready has never raced at a route distance, but trainer Rusty Arnold is 19 percent with runners second off the layoff, 38 percent in the money. Contender.

Red Carpet Ready is living up to her pedigree. By Freshman sire and multiple Grade 1-winning turf router Oscar Performance, the dark-bay filly is out of an unraced daughter of Street Sense, a half-sister to Vosburgh (G1) hero Joking. Red Carpet Ready carries Claiborne bloodlines, and she hails from the family of Pulpit. The Rusty Arnold trainee has been untested in all three starts and is the deserved favorite. Contender.

4.  Positano Sunset (8-1)

Two starts back, Positano Sunset broke her maiden in her third start. Last out, she finished fourth, 11 lengths behind winner Red Carpet Ready, in the Forward Gal (G3). The top three in that race were within a few lengths of each other, but there were 7 3/4 lengths between third-place finisher Atomically and this filly. This Goldencents filly showed declining form in the Forward Gal, with her speed rating dropping from a career-best 91 to an 82. Trainer Ian Wilkes is only 8 percent in graded stakes (29 percent in the money) and is winning at an 8 percent clip with jockey Julien Leparoux, 15 percent in the money. Pass.

Positano Sunset was restless and took a stutter step out of the gate in the Forward Gal Stakes, leaving her at the back of the pack. She made steady progress while circling the field but flattened out in the stretch and couldn’t stay with the top three. It wasn’t a terrible beginning to her 3-year-old season; but the Ian Wilkes trainee must take another step forward to finish in the top three. Positano Sunset showed that she could close effectively in the Forward Gal, and in a race filled with speed, she could be overlooked. Lower exotics.

5.  Undervalued Asset (3-1)

By Speightstown, Undervalued Asset was not undervalued in the Forward Gal (G3), finishing second as the 5-2 third choice off just her debut win on Nov. 10. She earned a 94 Brisnet Speed Rating for that effort. Trainer Chad Brown is winning at a 29 percent clip with runners second off the layoff, 62 percent in the money; at a 22 percent rate in graded stakes, 56 percent in the money; and at a 27 percent clip with first-time routers, 61 percent in the money. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be aboard for the third time in as many starts, and there’s no need to expound upon his stats. Contender.

Undervalued Asset passed horses and challenged Red Carpet Ready around the eighth-pole but had to settle for chasing that one home and holding off a quickly closing Atomically. The Chad Brown trainee posted a strong second-to-last four-furlong breeze at Payson, and given the Brown-Ortiz stats, all systems are go. Contender.

6.  Guns n’ Graces (20-1)

Also hailing from the Chad Brown barn, Guns n’ Graces was a distant second to Fireline, who hasn’t been seen since that Nov. 4 race. The Gun Runner filly improved in her second start, winning with her speed rating jumping from a 62 to a 78. That won’t be good enough to get the job done here, though. Brown is obviously hard to play against, but with Joel Rosario in the irons, this is a pass.

Guns n’ Graces is the other Brown trainee. Gun Runner’s daughter is out of a graded stakes-winning daughter of Empire Maker, so Guns n’ Graces should love extra distance. She’s been breezing in company at Payson Park with Undervalued Asset, but I feel this is a starting point for bigger and better. Pass.

7.  Lynx (12-1)

Lynx stalked and pounced her way to three straight victories to begin her career but lost the trail to the winner’s circle when she ran into Atomically and Infinite Diamond. But the daughter of Brethren has never been out of the trifecta and earned a career-best 91 speed rating when finishing second in the Cash Run last out. She was entered to run in the Forward Gal (G3) but was scratched. The Cash Run was her first start off a three-month layoff, and she enters off a two-month layoff here. Trainer Carlos David is winless in graded stakes, 19 percent in the money, and 17 percent with runners off a 46- to 90-day layoff, 48 percent in the money. It is worth noting that both of Lynx’s losses were at a mile or longer, so it looks like she’s a more effective sprinter. Use underneath.

Lynx won her first three starts, including two legs of the Florida Sire Stakes. She entered the My Dear Girl Stakes as the favorite but couldn’t keep up with Atomically and looked leg weary in the stretch. Still, she finished well clear of Dorth Vader. The Carlos David trainee was stuck in traffic behind a wall of horses until the stretch and then made a powerful move, only to be nosed out for second place. Brethren’s daughter was outclassed in the My Dear Girl and had an excuse in the Cash Run. Lynx may have a wide trip from the 7 hole, but she could pounce on a lower exotic prize if she runs back to her recent effort. Exotics.

8.  Adeliese’s Smile (30-1)

It took Adeliese’s Smile four attempts to break her maiden. Her speed ratings improved with each start, culminating with an 82 when she finally found the winner’s circle. Trainer Jose Jimenez then threw the Uncle Mo filly into the deep end, where she finished ninth, beaten 31 lengths, in the Forward Gal (G3). She’s been at double-digit odds in each start, topped by the 62-1 odds she went off at in the Forward Gal. Jimenez is winless in graded stakes and hadn't finished in the money. Pass.

Adeliese’s Smile beat a group of lackluster maidens who, two months later, are still searching for the winner’s circle. She showed zero, zip, nada in the Forward Gal, and there are no smiles from Ashley and me about her chances in the Davona Dale. Pass.

9.  Dorth Vader (15-1)

By Girvin, Dorth Vader either wins or loses by exactly 11 lengths. The filly’s best two races were her wins in the seven-furlong Juvenile Fillies Sprint at Gulfstream Park and in the six-furlong Sandpiper at Tampa Bay Downs, where she earned speed ratings of 90 and 94, respectively. Last out, she was sixth in the Gasparilla as the 3-2 favorite, managing only a 67 speed rating. Trainer Michael Yates is winless in graded stakes, 44 percent in the money, but winning at a 20 percent clip with runners off a 46- to 90-day layoff, 46 percent in the money. Dorth Vader is 4: 2-0-1 at Gulfstream Park, but one of her losses came to Atomically and Lynx in the My Dear Girl Stakes. Pass.

Dorth Vader is a force against lesser fillies but was no match for Atomically in the My Dear Girl Stakes and, more recently, tossed in a clunker in the Gasparilla Stakes as the favorite. The Michael Yates trainee has a sprinter-miler pedigree and likes to be forwardly placed. She has speed to her inside and will get a wide trip. Pass.

10. Leave No Trace (5-1)

Leave No Trace won two straight at Saratoga during the summer, including the Spinaway (G1). She lost her next two starts but still ran respectably, finishing third in the Frizette (G1) and second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The 88 Brisnet Speed Rating she earned for her Spinaway win was a career best. Although she is clearly the class of the field, her speed figures will need to improve to beat the locals. Trainer Philip Serpe is only 11 percent in graded stakes, 56 percent in the money, and 3 percent with runners off a 90- or more day layoff, 19 percent in the money. She does get high-percentage jockey Tyler Gaffalione for the first time, though. Exotics.

As Ashley commented, Leave No Trace is the class of the field, and she’s been logging stamina works at Gulfstream since last month. But she’ll have her hooves full with speed to her inside, her speed ratings are low, and most of her rivals benefit from a recent start. Philip Serpe must improve to have a shot. I’m going to pass.

Final thoughts

Ashley: Leave No Trace makes her 2023 debut off a four-month layoff and likely will need to shake some rust off. Although she is the only Grade 1 winner in the field, it is undefeated Forward Gal (G3) winner Red Carpet Ready who has the best speed rating. This will be Red Carpet Ready’s first attempt at a mile, but she has won all her previous races by open lengths.

Red Carpet Ready likely will try to make all the pace from post 3 but look for Dorth Vader to cross over from post 9 to keep her company. Leave No Trace also has early speed and will have the length of the stretch to cross over and save ground on the far turn.

Atomically did the early legwork in her second and third starts but has pressed the pace in her last two races. Infinite Diamond, Positano Sunset, Undervalued Asset, Guns n’ Graces and Adeliese’s Smile also have shown a penchant for being on and closely pressing the pace.

Lynx is the only one in the field who has never set the pace, but she’s typically not far off of it, either. So if she and jockey Edgard Zayas can work out a good trip with a hot pace to chase, they stand a good shot of stretching the filly beyond seven furlongs.

Laurie: In the last decade only one filly captured the Davona Dale in her first start off the layoff. All except two winners gained ground in their prep, and the majority were pacesetters or pressers. Only two favorites finished worse than first or second.

None of the Davona Dale winners were worse than fourth in their final prep, and seven of the last 10 used the Forward Gal Stakes as a springboard to victory.

Ashley did an excellent job of breaking down the pace scenario.

It’s hard to look past Red Carpet Ready. Undefeated, winner of a key prep, the best pedigree in the field, and the meet’s third-leading rider. Plus, Rusty Arnold knows a thing or two about getting a horse ready to run a big one.

I see Atomically and Infinite Diamond as her most significant threats.




  2. Infinite Diamond (10-1)

  3. Red Carpet Ready (2-1)

  3. Red Carpet Ready (2-1)

  1. Atomically (8-1)

  5. Undervalued Asset (3-1)

  2. Infinite Diamond (10-1)

10. Leave No Trace (5-1)

  5. Undervalued Asset (3-1)

Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 ThoroFan Board Member

 Member – NTWAB

Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
Facebook: IMTBreds
LinkedIn: Laurie Ross

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