Take Charge Paula goes for win number two under the tutelage of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin as the dark bay miss takes on seven rivals in Saturday’s $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile contest is the second of three Road to the Kentucky Oaks events taking place at Gulfstream and offers up 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four runners.
Take Charge Paula currently sits in 10th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard thanks to the 10 points she earned for capturing the February 3 Forward Gal Stakes (G3) by 3 1/2 lengths over the track. That was the Take Charge Indy filly’s first start for McLaughlin after previously being trained by Kelly Breen, who saddled her to three stakes wins and a runner-up effort in the Matron Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park last year.
Take Charge Paula has thus far racked up a 7-5-1-0 career mark, with her only unplaced finish coming as a 10th in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last September. That was also the only race jockey Paco Lopez wasn’t aboard for, but he’ll be in the saddle as usual on Saturday.
Fly So High could upset the Davona Dale while making her stakes bow under regular rider Jose Ortiz. The Shug McGaughey pupil finished third over a good track in her debut at Belmont Park last October, but in a pair of one-mile races at Aqueduct and Gulfstream has romped by a combined 13 1/4 lengths. The Malibu Moon miss earned a 99 BRIS Speed rating for her Gulfstream foray and could lead all the way home in this spot.
There will be some familiar faces in the Davona Dale for Take Charge Paula, including Sultry, who put in a good rally to be second in the Forward Gal last out. The Eddie Kenneally trainee is already a stakes winner, taking the Spendthrift Juvenile Filly Stallion Stakes at Churchill Downs last October, and gets a rider change here to Joe Bravo.
Miss Mo Mentum romped by a combined 12 1/2 lengths in a pair of starts before the Forward Gal, but was a subpar sixth under the wire in that seven-furlong affair. The Mark Casse trainee will give it another try on Saturday with Tyler Gaffalione keeping the mount.
Heavenhasmynikki set the early pace in the Forward Gal before fading to fourth on the wire for trainer Anthony Quartarolo. The chestnut daughter of Majestic Warrior was making her stakes bow in that spot and suffered her first career loss after breaking her maiden by 5 1/4 lengths at Mahoning Valley and taking an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream. Irad Oritz Jr. will be aboard for the first time as Heavenhasmynikki gives stakes company a second try.
Sunny Skies switches back to the main track in the Davona Dale after closing out her juvenile campaign with a sixth-place run in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) over Keeneland’s grass on October 11. Prior to that, the Animal Kingdom filly captured the Debutante Stakes under the Twin Spires and filled the third spot in both the Pocahontas and Ellis Park Debutante Stakes. Trainer Kenny McPeek has tabbed Julien Leparoux to take over the mount on Sunny Skies in this spot.
Alter Moon wired a maiden special weight going seven furlongs at Gulfstream last out on January 7 in her second career start for conditioner Jose Velez. The Alternation filly steps up here to face winners with regular rider Edgard Zayas staying in the saddle.
Last-out debut maiden winner Cache completes the Davona Dale field. The Mark Hennig charge scored by 2 3/4 lengths going seven furlongs at Gulfstream and keeps Javier Castellano aboard.