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Live Lively holds Dreaming of Julia to take Davona Dale
Lee Lewis' Live Lively was making her stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $245,000 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park and proceeded to lead all the way home as the 2-1 second choice under jockey Joel Rosario. Trained by Mark Hennig, the Medaglia d'Oro filly set splits of :23 2/5, :46 3/5, 1:10 1/5 and 1:35 1/5 before finishing 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42 1/5.
"I figured she'd fall out of there (and go to the lead), it was just a matter if somebody was going to go with here," Hennig said. "She's got a good turn of foot and she's never showed us any lack of stamina. I figured if they tried to run with her it might have been a tall task.
"I was pleased," he added. "She couldn't have prepared any better for this and I was expecting a big race out of her."
Live Lively immediately shot to the front when the gates opened and rounded the turn wide as 4-5 favorite Dreaming of Julia settled a few lengths back in second down the backstretch. Private Ensign and Lady Banks kept each other company just in behind, while Twice Told Tale rushed up after breaking in the air then dropped back to last.
Dreaming of Julia tried to make a run at Live Lively rounding the turn, but the dark bay miss never faltered, easily turning back her rival while 1 1/2 lengths clear on the wire.
"She did it so easily in front the whole way, (I was) just trying to save some for the end," Rosario remarked. "I wasn't sure about the distance, but she looks like she can do anything. Every time she looks better and better and keeps improving."
Dreaming of Julia, who was returning in this spot off her first career loss when third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, had 5 3/4 lengths to spare on third-placer Private Ensign. Lady Banks rounded out the field after Twice Told Tale was eased in the stretch.
"I thought she ran extremely well," said Dreaming of Julia's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "We were sort of at the mercy of the pace scenario, so I think we had to take her out of her comfort zone earlier than we wanted to try and keep some pressure on the winner. The winner was too good and we were just second best of the day.
"I was very happy with it, for her first start since the Breeder's Cup and spotting six pounds to some quality fillies, I thought it was a very good effort off the layoff."
Live Lively paid $6.20, $3.20 and $2.20, and moved her career mark to 3-0-1 from four lifetime starts. The sophomore lass dropped her initial start at Belmont Park last June, then wasn't seen again until five months later when she captured her first win by three parts of a length at Aqueduct. She showed up on New Year's Day at Gulfstream to romp by 11 1/4 lengths in an optional claimer, and had now banked $220,300 in her short career.
Hennig said the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30 could be Live Lively's next start.
"She's seems to love training at Palm Meadows and when she comes down here she looks like a picture in the paddock," he noted. "She never gets stirred up by the shipping. I don't see any point to running around to another racetrack at this point."
Live Lively was bred in Kentucky by Edward A. Cox Jr. and sold for $160,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the Smoke Glacken mare Glacken's Gal, who was unbeaten in two races on track including the Astoria in 2007. Glacken's Gal is a half-sister to a pair of stakes winners, Banker's Buy and City Dweller, and a granddaughter of multiple Grade 3-placed stakes victress Mercedes Miss.
This female family has also produced dual Grade 3-placed stakes heroine Check Point; multiple stakes scorer Bagshot, who placed in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Grade 2 Strub in 1998; and multiple Grade 1-placed Fiesta Libre.