(Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle Spice Is Nice in Saturday’s G2 Davona Dale / Photo by Gene McLean)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
If a horsemen’s dream is to have a promising 3-year-old colt and 3-year-old filly in his barn as winter turns to spring, then trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is living the dream.
Not only will Joseph saddle the stakes-winning Chance It in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park, but earlier in the day he will also saddle the undefeated 3-year-old filly Tonalist’s Shape in the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2).
The Davona Dale and Fountain of Youth are two of nine graded-stakes races – 10 total stakes – Saturday at Gulfstream along with the simulcast of the $20 million Saudi Cup featuring last year’s Florida Derby (G1) winner Maximum Security.
First race post at Gulfstream is 11:30 a.m. Silks will open at 10 a.m.
The one mile Davona Dale drew a competitive group of 3-year-olds including undefeated Bayerness and Spice Is Nice, Reluctant Bride, and Nikki and Papa, who finished third in her racing debut Feb. 1 behind Tonalist’s Shape in the Forward Gal (G3).
Owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham and Legacy Ranch Inc., Tonalist’s Shape won her racing debut at Gulfstream Sept. 28, the same day Chance It won the $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Sire Stakes. After winning an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park West, Tonalist’s Shape won the $75,000 Hut Hut Nov. 30 at a mile at Gulfstream West by nine lengths. After a short break, Tonalist’s Shape made her 3-year-old debut a winning one with a 3 ¾-length victory in the Forward Gal.
“She’s done well from 2 to 3,” Joseph said. “After the Hut Hut, we said we were going to give her a break. We looked at the calendar and the Forward Gal looked like a good spot to start her back up. It was seven-eighths. I don’t think she wants to be doing that, but we thought it would be a good spot to start off her 3-year-old campaign, and it worked out well.”
Joseph said while Chance It will “overdo it if you let him,” Tonalist’s Shape will “only do what she has to do.” For good reason, Joseph is anxious to see the filly back in action Saturday. Tyler Gaffalione will ride the filly for the first time.
“She’s a filly we’re excited about,” Joseph added. “We think stretching back out in distance is going to help her. She has a lot of stamina. She has the will to win – that’s a very important attribute. She knows how to win. She’s won for four different jockeys already. She’ll have her fifth jockey Saturday. Tyler’s been on her for her last two works and he’s very happy with her.”
Miracle International Trading, Inc.’s Dream Marie, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Grade 1 winner Graydar, enters the Davona Dale on a three-race winning streak for trainer Matthew Williams. Richard Mitchell has the mount.
Nikki and Papa, an Ohio-bred daughter of Mineshaft who sold for $500,000 as a 2-year-old, got her racing career off to a memorable start by finishing third in the Forward Gal (G3). Trained by Bob Hess, Fanny Olsson will be in the saddle.
Spice Is Nice, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, is a daughter of Curlin who won at first asking Jan. 12 by 12 lengths at a mile. Bayerness, a daughter of Bayern trained by Cherie DeVaux, is undefeated in two starts and will be making her first start since winning an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Florent Geroux gets the mount.