A stellar field of eight sophomore fillies has been entered in Saturday's $150,000 Davona Dale S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, and the one-turn mile event will be the highly anticipated stakes debut for two of the runners. The connections of COMIC MARVEL (Distorted Humor) and CHRISTINE DAAE (Giant's Causeway) have been talking up their fillies for some time, and the pair will have to live up to all the hype if they hope to challenge against this group.
Comic Marvel is undefeated from two career starts following nice maiden and allowance wins, and is looking to establish her credentials as a legitimate Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender. The same can be said for Christine Daae, who proved her dislike for all-weather tracks with a well-beaten fourth last July at Hollywood Park. She returned on January 15 at Gulfstream and proceeded to break her maiden by 8 3/4 lengths against nine rivals. Trainer Bill Mott will give a leg up to jockey John Velazquez on Comic Marvel, while Corey Nakatani has the call on Christine Daae.
BICKERSONS (Silver Deputy) will be trying a stretch out once again following a seven-length domination of the Forward Gal S. (G2) on January 31. That seven-furlong event featured the return of champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) heroine She Be Wild (Offlee Wild), but it was the Kelly Breen-trained Bickersons who stole the show from the beginning. The dark bay lass led nearly every step of the way and was under a hand ride from Joe Bravo as she easily pulled away in the stretch.
All of Bickersons' prior stretch-out attempts occurred on the synthetic tracks in California, and they produced some dismal results. The three-year-old will have to prove that it was the all-weather, and not the distance, if she hopes to maintain her status as a legitimate Kentucky Oaks contender.
While Bickersons is trying to prove herself at the distance, AMEN HALLELUJAH (Montbrook) will have to compute herself well in her dirt bow. The Richard Dutrow runner scored a game win in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) at Santa Anita on January 16 and was third in both the Alcibiades S. (G1) and Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) to conclude her juvenile season. The dark bay has been working well over Gulfstream's main track since the Santa Ynez, and will get the services of Julien Leparoux in the saddle this time around.
SASSY IMAGE (Broken Vow) will be looking to add a fourth straight stakes win to her line when breaking from the outermost post in the Davona Dale. The Dale Romans-conditioned miss has already verified her ability to handle both a distance of ground and a dirt track when taking the Pocahontas S. (G3) and Golden Rod S. (G2), both at Churchill Downs, last year. She was set to make her seasonal bow on Gulfstream's turf in the January 17 Sweetest Chant S., but the one-mile test was rained off the grass and moved to the main track. Sassy Image didn't let the sloppy conditions faze her, though, as she drew off to score by 4 1/2 lengths on the line. Robby Albarado has been aboard for her past three victories, and the duo will stick together here.
MAMBO FEVER's (Stormin Fever) only prior stakes experience came as a rallying second in the Tempted S. (G3) at Aqueduct in November. The dark bay returned on January 31 to fill that spot once again, this time behind Comic Marvel in an allowance, and will keep Jeremy Rose in the irons.
JOANIE'S CATCH (First Tour), second in the Forward Gal and Old Hat S. (G3) in her past two, and Wings of Jove S. winner FEMALE DRAMA (Indian Charlie), who was 10th in the Old Hat, round out the Davona Dale field.