- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Dixie Strike tops Herecomesthebride
Kentucky Oaks hopeful Dixie Strike tops Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park. The Mark Casse pupil raced exclusively over Woodbine's Polytrack as a juvenile, capping her 2011 campaign with a 5 1/2-length triumph in the Ontario Lassie. Trying turf for the first time in the February 4 Florida Oaks at Tampa, she got up in time for a last-gasp victory. Jose Lezcano will attempt to go two-for-two aboard Dixie Strike, who has drawn post 5.
Her stablemate Northern Passion didn't have as much luck in the Florida Oaks, where she was fanned out extremely wide turning for home and was beaten a grand total of three-quarters of a length. Prior to the race, Northern Passion actually had stronger credentials than Dixie Strike, as the winner of the Grade 3 Natalma on the Woodbine turf. If regular rider Luis Contreras can engineer a better trip, she can turn the tables on her fellow John C. Oxley colorbearer. Likewise looking for revenge is Regalo Mia, third in the Florida Oaks fresh off her maiden win for Michelle Nihei.
Dayatthespa, runner-up to Northern Passion in the Natalma, opened 2012 with an impressive score in the January 22 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream. The Chad Brown filly will renew rivalry with her nearest pursuers from the Sweetest Chant, Wholelottashakin and Frolic's Revenge, respectively, as well as fifth-placer Ann of the Dance.
The 1 1/8-mile Herecomesthebride has also attracted Shadwell Stable's Almusafa, a sharp optional claiming winner last out, and the main-track-only hope Wait Til Dawn, a royally-bred maiden winner from the Todd Pletcher barn.
The Herecomesthebride for fillies serves as the companion to Sunday's Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes, which marks the reappearance of Kentucky Derby contender Dullahan.