02/25/2010 12:00AM

Bickersons giving a mile a shot


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Bickersons ran 10 rivals, including Eclipse Award winner She Be Wild, off their feet in dominating the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes here last month. The question Saturday is whether she can repeat that performance against perhaps an even deeper field when she extends to a mile for the $150,000 Davona Dale, the best of three stakes races on a card that also includes the Grade 3 Sabin and Grade 3 The Very One for older fillies and mares.

Bickersons stalked the pace before drawing off to a seven-length victory over Joanie's Catch in the Grade 2 Forward Gal, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 97. The win was the second in the last three starts for Bickersons, who captured Hollywood Park's seven-furlong Moccasin in her 2-year-old finale.

The Grade 2 Davona Dale will be the first start at a one-turn mile for Bickersons. She has been two turns on three occasions, finishing third in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf, 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and fifth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. All those races were at 1 1/16 miles over artificial surfaces.

"Naturally a mile is definitely a concern," said Kelly Breen, who trains Bickersons for owners George and Lori Hall. "A one-turn mile is probably as far as she can go at the best of her ability, but it should be right up her alley, and with the right pace I don't believe it's too much too ask of her."

Breen said he is hoping Bickersons and jockey Joe Bravo can work out the same kind of stalking trip they got in the Forward Gal.

"The horse up front put us in a good scenario last time, and there is some other pace in this field," said Breen. "I just hope the fact that she is so sharp right now and has so much speed doesn't hinder her and that she'll realize she's going a mile and can relax and rate herself."

Trainer Rick Dutrow is expecting Amen Hallelujah to have the same kind of success coming off the artificial surface in the Davona Dale as Bickersons had in the Forward Gal. Each of Amen Hallelujah's first seven starts have been over artificial racetracks of one type or another, three of those outings resulting in victories, including a three-quarter-length triumph in Santa Anita's Grade 2 Santa Ynez on Jan. 16.

"From what my riders are telling me, she's training even better on the dirt than she did over the artificial tracks, so I'm looking forward to running her here," said Dutrow. "Naturally I'm not happy having to break out of the 1 post, so the key to the race will be whether she can work out a good trip."

Sassy Image brings a three-race winning streak into the Davona Dale and like Bickersons owns a win over the track. She coasted to a 4 1/2-length triumph going a mile in the off-the-turf Sweetest Chant Stakes six weeks earlier. A daughter of Broken Vow, Sassy Image closed out her juvenile campaign winning a pair of graded stakes at Churchill Downs.

"I wish we were going a mile and one-eighth rather than a mile, but that's the next one," said Romans. "This should be a good test to see where we stand with her. She training as well as a horse can train, and hopefully there will be some pace up front that we can fall in behind."

The field also includes Joanie's Catch, second in both the Grade 3 Old Hat and the Forward Gal here this winter, the lightly raced but promising pair of Christine Daae and Comic Marvel, and Female Drama and Mambo Fever.

Comic Marvel is unbeaten in two starts but will be stepping up from entry-level allowance company into a Grade 2 stakes.

"It's a matter of finding out where we're at and how we stack up," said Bill Mott, who trains the homebred Comic Marvel for the Juddmonte Farms.