Forward Gal Stakes (G2) heroine Tequilita bypassed the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park but returns on Saturday to take on the second- through fourth-place finishers from that March 4 affair in the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
The 1 1/16-mile contest is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and will award the respective top four 100-40-20-10 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Tequilita earned her shot at Kentucky Oaks glory when upsetting the Forward Gal at 14-1 on February 4. That was the Michael Matz trainee’s first start since taking her stakes bow in the Smart Halo Stakes at Laurel Park last November 19, and that one followed her initial score against maiden rivals at Keeneland in October. The bay daughter of Union Rags will be stretching out past a mile for the first time on Saturday and brings Forward Gal pilot Luis Saez along for the ride.
Jordan’s Henny broke her maiden in December at Gulfstream and tried the Davona Dale three months later. The Michael Tomlinson pupil was pressured throughout that eight-furlong contest but managed to finish a half-length back in second while holding Summer Luck to third by a neck. Jordan’s Henny was sent off at 19-1 that day and is listed at 8-1 on the morning-line for the Gulfstream Park Oaks with Corey Lanerie keeping the mount.
Summer Luck was cross-entered to the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on Saturday, but trainer Mark Casse has already said she would be scratched from that race. However, he also said she was joining his Keeneland string, so her status for the Gulfstream Park Oaks is also unlikely. The Lookin at Lucky filly not only rallied for third in the Davona Dale, she also got up for fourth in the Forward Gal.
It was 3 1/4 lengths behind Summer Luck in the Davona Dale to Modacious, who was stretching out past 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time in that contest. The Uncle Mo filly took her maiden debut by 6 3/4 lengths in December and was also making her stakes bow in the Davona Dale for trainer Robert Reid Jr. She’ll get a jockey switch to Nik Juarez for the Gulfstream Park Oaks.
Shezaprado is the only other runner in the Gulfstream Park Oaks with prior stakes experience. The Mike Maker-trained daughter of Paddy O’Prado finished sixth in the Miss Preakness Starter Stakes on February 20 at Gulfstream, which came two races after she earned her initial win against maiden claimers. Julien Leparoux rides on Saturday.
Spring Mist just broke her maiden in gate-to-wire fashion at Tampa Bay Downs on March 10 and gets the expertise of jockey Javier Castellano while making her stakes bow for trainer William Deaton.
Salty also just broke her maiden, and is actually the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Gulfstream Park Oaks for doing so over the track on March 5 by 2 1/2 lengths. That score earned the Casse charge a 97 BRIS Speed rating and she keeps Joel Rosario aboard.
Nonna Bella is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line as she risks her unbeaten two-for-two mark in this spot. The Todd Pletcher-conditioned filly earned both of her wins at Gulfstream but, like Salty, will be stretching out past seven furlongs for the first time here. John Velazquez has the call.
Conquest Sorceror is still a maiden after seven tries for trainer Rasharn Creque and gets Miguel Vazquez in the irons for this eighth start.