FLORIDA / AMEN HALLELUJAH DOMINATES DAVONA DALE FOES IN DIRT DEBUT, CHRISTINE DAAE IMPRESSES IN GULFSTREAM ALLOWANCE – After seven straight races on synthetic tracks, including a victory in Santa Anita’s Santa Ynez (Grade II) on Jan. 16, IEAH Stables and Whizway Farm’s 3-year-old filly Amen Hallelujah traveled to Florida’s Gulfstream Park with a single goal: to prove her worthiness as a contender for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI) with big effort on traditional dirt.]
The daughter of Montbrook, ridden by Julien Leparoux, disposed of favored Bickersons in upper
stretch and cruised to a 6 ¼-length victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Davona Dale (GII). Joanie’s Catch rallied for second and Mambo Fever finished third as Bickersons, the easy winner of the Jan. 31 Forward Gal (GII), faded to fourth. Sassy Image, winner of Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (GII), saw a three-race winning streak snapped in her fifth-place finish, while previously unbeaten Comic Marvel finished last.
“Our goal now is the Kentucky Oaks,” said IEAH Stables’ Michael Iavarone.
“I brought her back from California just to run in this race,” said trainer Rick Dutrow, who saddled Big Brown to win the 2008 Kentucky Derby (GI). “I’ve always thought she’d be better on dirt.”
Amen Hallelujah completed the one-mile distance in 1:37.16 over a “fast” track and improved her career record to 4-1-3 in eight races and boosted her earnings to $312,370.
CHRISTINE DAAE ROLLS – While fans buzzed over the emphatic win by Amen Hallelujah, a win by Michael Imperio and Kona Stable LLC’s Christine Daae had a similar impact fewer than 24 hours later.
The Patrick Biancone-trained chestnut daughter of Giant’s Causeway, a late scratch from the Davona Dale, rallied from just off the pace under jockey Corey Nakatani to score an easy 2 ¼-length victory over six rivals in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race for 3-year-old fillies. She had turned heads at Gulfstream on Jan. 15 with a dazzling 8 ¾-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden race, and Sunday’s success came in her two-turn debut at the Kentucky Oaks distance.
Acting Happy finished second and Jackie’s Express was third as Christina Daae covered the distance in 1:50.26 over a “fast” track. Christine Daae, named for the heroine in the classic novel “Phantom of the Opera,” is nominated to both the Oaks and to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.
STREAKER COULD BE NEXT McGAUGHEY STAR – Veteran trainer and Kentucky native Shug McGaughey, who won the 1993 Kentucky Oaks with Dispute, could have a late-developing hope for Kentucky Oaks 136 in Phipps Stable’s Streaker, an easy winner in her Feb. 10 debut at Gulfstream Park.
The homebred daughter of Forest Wildcat is a half-sister to Pine Island, who won the 2006 Alabama (GI) but later suffered a fatal injury in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs.
"I really think she has the potential to be okay,” said McGaughey. “She’s certainly got the pedigree and the looks.”
McGaughey said Streaker’s next start would come at a mile when she returns to New York.
OAKS FUTURES THIS WEEK – The lone 2010 pool of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager opens its three-day March 5-7 run at noon (all times EST) on Friday. Betting in the pool closes on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.