03/26/2009 12:00AM

Bonnie Miss matchup a doozy

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A field of six 3-year-old fillies entered Friday's $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park, although on paper the Grade 2 event looks like a two-horse race between the odds-on favorite Justwhistledixie and the unbeaten and still untested Gatorette.

Justwhistledixie has won her last four starts, including the Grade 2 Davona Dale in her local debut on March 1. As was the case in her three previous victories, all in New York, Justwhistledixie drew off with complete authority through the stretch after racing prominently from the outset of the one-mile Davona Dale. The 3 3/4-length victory was so impressive that Justwhistledixie was bet down to be the surprising 5-2 favorite over Rachel Alexandra and Stardom Bound when the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool closed on March 15.

"She's doing great and I'm starting to get excited thinking about the Oaks," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who will watch the Bonnie Miss from Dubai where he is running Albertus Maximus on Saturday in the Dubai World Cup. "It would really be fun to win this race and go to Churchill Downs having won five in a row. I don't think the extra eighth of a mile will bother her on Friday. The way she ran her last race, it looked like she was just starting again when she hit the turn."

Julian Leparoux will replace Justwhistledixie's regular rider Alan Garcia for the Bonnie Miss. Garcia accompanied McLaughlin to Dubai to ride Albertus Maximus in the World Cup.

Gatorette will be making both her stakes debut and first start beyond 7 1/2 furlongs in the Bonnie Miss. The daughter of Distorted Humor cruised to a 7 1/4-length victory winning her maiden on Feb. 1, then returned to register a similarly easy 7 3/4-length entry-level allowance win here five weeks later.

"Obviously, Justwhistledixie is the horse to beat," said Gatorette's trainer, David Fawkes. "The main thing that concerns me is that both fillies have similar running styles. The extra distance doesn't worry me. Not the way she looked in her last start."

Gatorette will get a six-pound concession from Justwhistledixie under the allowance conditions of the Bonnie Miss. She will break inside her chief rival from post 3 under jockey Eibar Coa. Justwhistledixie will begin from the outside in post 6.

Completing the lineup are Casanova Move, who was a distant second behind Justwhistledixie in the Davona Dale, Suz Slew, Hopeful Image, and Shared Account.