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Live Lively, Lady Banks aim for Davona Dale
Lee Lewis' three-year-old filly Live Lively was very impressive winning a seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park on New Year's Day by 11 1/4 lengths for trainer Mark Hennig and is on target to make her stakes debut and first start around two turns in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on February 23.
"It's a big test for her with the step up in class and first start going a distance," Hennig said Friday morning from Palm Meadows.
A daughter of Medaglia d'Oro purchased for $160,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Live Lively finished third in her debut at Belmont Park in late June. She broke her maiden in her second start at Aqueduct on November 23, beating expected Davona Dale rival Lady Banks.
"She showed she liked the track in the allowance and ran well enough to earn a chance in this race," Hennig said. "There really aren't really a lot of options for a three-year-old (with her conditions) and I don't want to think about shipping for an easier spot. She doesn't have to win…just show us where we are."
Jockey Joel Rosario is expected to have the return call.
A small field is currently expected for the Davona Dale, with Stonestreet Stables LLC's Dreaming of Julia expected to be a solid favorite as she makes her first start since finishing third behind Beholder and Executiveprivilege in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on November 2 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
George and Stephanie Autry's three-year-old Lady Banks, winner of the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct last out on January 12, shipped into Palm Meadows after a van trip from Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland earlier this week as she prepares for a start in the Davona Dale.
"We left Fair Hill Tuesday and got here early Wednesday morning," trainer James L. "Chuck" Lawrence Friday morning. "Graham Motion was kind enough to get us into his barn and she's settled in nicely. I've galloped her myself the last couple of mornings. Joe Rocco (Jr.) will ride her and probably work her here on Monday morning.
"I think she'll get the distance because she doesn't run until you ask her to. I've thought from the beginning that she was very classy. She came out of the Ruthless with a little piece of gravel in a foot from that muddy track, but she's over that and everything has gone right since then."
A $130,000 OBS March 2-year-old purchase, Lady Banks is an Ontario-bred daughter of Successful Appeal with three starts, beginning with a close-up second to Live Lively in her debut at Aqueduct. She came back to break her maiden there on December 14 before a two-length score in the Ruthless Stakes at six furlongs.