2024 Davona Dale Contenders at Gulfstream Park

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Edited Gulfstream Park Press Release
Updated: February 29, 2024

Just F Y I Eyes the Prize in G2 Davona Dale

Just F Y I, the undefeated champion 2-year-old filly of 2023, is set to make her highly anticipated season debut in the Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 2.

The 37th running of the one-mile Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies is one of nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.85 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program headlined by the $400,000 Coolmore Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), the next step on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 30.

Named for the champion 3-year-old filly of 1979 that was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985, the Davona Dale follows the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G3) Feb. 3 and precedes the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) March 30 in Gulfstream's series of stakes for sophomore fillies.

2024 Davona Dale Stakes Field & Odds

Race 9 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 2 - Post 3:17 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Miss Sayely 20-1 Paco Lopez
118 Lbs
Jose D'Angelo
2 Leslie's Rose 8-5 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
120 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
3 Just F Y I 7-5 Junior Alvarado
123 Lbs
William Mott
4 Fiona's Magic 8-1 Tyler Gaffalione
120 Lbs
Michael Yates
5 Whocouldaskformo 12-1 Jose Ortiz
118 Lbs
Claude McGaughey III
6 Queen's Martini 10-1 Luis Saez
118 Lbs
Danny Gargan
7 New Diamond 30-1 David Egan
118 Lbs
Patrick Biancone
8 Into Champagne 6-1 Julien Leparoux
120 Lbs
Ian Wilkes

A daughter of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Just F Y I has been training steadily at Payson Park for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott with six timed works starting in mid-January, her first breezes since before clinching the Eclipse Award with her neck victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) in November at Santa Anita.

"We're hoping that she's got enough in her to get started. You have to start somewhere," Mott said. "She's done well. Some that look at her think that she's probably grown a little bit. I see her every day so I don't see it as much, but she seems to be doing well. Her works have been quite good."

Mott was especially pleased with Just F Y I's most recent work, a five-furlong breeze in 1:02 1/5 Saturday at his winter base of Payson Park.

"The time was very good for Payson," Mott said. "She finished with lots of energy."

Just F Y I was not favored in any of her three starts last year, starting with a head triumph in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Saratoga on the undercard of the Travers Stakes (G1). She stepped up and stretched out to a mile in the Frizette, romping by 3 ¾ lengths, prior to her determined Breeders' Cup victory.

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"We gave her some time off. What happens is you give them some time off and all of a sudden you look at the calendar and you say, 'Geez, I better get going,'" Mott said. "We had her started back breezing and then I lost a week or 10 days. She had a little skin issue which some of them get down here, so I missed a work with her. But we've been back and had four works since then."

Mott hopes to use South Florida as a springboard to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 3, which comes 4 ½ weeks after the Gulfstream Park Oaks. It is four weeks from the Davona Dale to the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

"I've gone back and forth just deciding should I have two races or one. If I put two races in here, they're going to have to be a month apart," Mott said. "The clock starts ticking and before you know it, these races are right on top of you."

Junior Alvarado, aboard for all three of Just F Y I's races last year, gets the return call from Post 3 in a field of eight. Alvarado won Saturday's $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) on Pegasus World Cup (G1) runner-up Senor Buscador.

"There's going to be some tough races down the road," Mott said. "You're hoping that the first one is not the toughest one."

Among those lining up to challenge Just F Y I is Six Column Stables, Randall Bloch, Mike Davis and Michael Steele's fellow undefeated stakes winner Into Champagne. The Ian Wilkes trainee was a popular winner of both her starts, the most recent a 1 ¼-length triumph in the six-furlong Glitter Woman Jan. 7 at Gulfstream.

"She's doing good. I'm very happy with her," Wilkes said. "She's worked very well and everything's good. I know it's not going to be an easy race but I'm coming in with no excuses. We'll see where we are."

Into Champagne captured her unveiling last summer by 6 ¾ lengths sprinting seven furlongs at Ellis Park before going to the sidelines. She began breezing again at the Skylight Training Center in Louisville, Ky. in early November and has had nine timed works since early December at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

"I was very happy the way she did it. I thought late in the race she might have gotten a little tired. [Jockey] Julien [Leparoux] said she was looking around just waiting, so that's good. It made me feel better where I was with her. She sat behind some horses, she had to sit there for a long time and then the [opening] came and she ran through it."

Wilkes opted to skip the Forward Gal and point to the Davona Dale by design. Leparoux comes in from Oaklawn Park to ride Into Champagne in her longest race to date from outermost Post 8.

"She ran hard last time and I didn't need to wheel her back in four weeks. It's different if I had some more foundation in her. I would have come back and run her the seven-eights, but I just had to let her regroup a little bit off of that race. The question is coming back in four weeks after this race," Wilkes said. "We'll see how far she can go. Hopefully she can stretch out. We go to a mile now and hopefully she handles that and we'll keep stretching out from there."

Stonehedge's Florida homebred Fiona's Magic had a two-race win streak snapped when second behind R Harper Rose, beaten two lengths, in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G3) Feb. 3 at Gulfstream, where she has made each of her four starts. The St Patrick's Day filly graduated by seven lengths second time out and notched a front-running victory racing first time against winners Dec. 7.

Whisper Hill Farm homebred Leslie's Rose will be making her stakes debut after winning her only two starts for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. By Into Mischief, she debuted with a 9 ¼-length maiden special weight triumph Nov. 19 at Aqueduct and returned with a one-length optional claiming allowance score Jan. 11 at Gulfstream over Gun Song, who came back to win a similar spot by 5 ¾ lengths Feb. 9.

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Queen's Martini will make her second straight start at one mile after finishing second behind subsequent Suncoast winner Power Squeeze in the Jan. 1 Cash Run at Gulfstream. The daughter of Mucho Macho Man overcame a bump at the break to win at first asking July 19 at Saratoga.

Gran Chanito Stable, Soldi Stable and Orange Racing Stable's Miss Sayely owns two wins and three seconds from seven starts, all at Gulfstream. The Maximus Mischief filly made her season debut Feb. 9 running third behind Gun Song.

Rounding out the field are Diamond 100 Racing Club's New Diamond, who graduated at first asking sprinting six furlongs last July and went unraced until returning to be third in a 6 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance Feb. 14, both at Gulfstream; and Suncoast runner-up Whocouldaskformo.

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