02/25/2016 2:00PM

Davona Dale distance a hurdle for Cathryn Sophia

Barbara D. Livingston
Cathryn Sophia stretches out from the seven furlongs of the Forward Gal to the one mile of the Davona Dale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The 3-year-old filly division is loaded this year, led by the seemingly invincible Songbird and a strong supporting case that includes Cathryn Sophia, who will attempt to move up the pecking order as the heavy favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park.

Cathryn Sophia is unbeaten and virtually unchallenged in three starts. She showed off her abundant speed in winning her two juvenile appearances by a combined 29 lengths before putting her class and versatility on display with a come-from-behind 5 1/4-length triumph in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at seven furlongs here last month. Cathryn Sophia will stretch out to a mile for the first time in the Davona Dale while facing six rivals, including another highly regarded member of the division, Grade 2 winner Lewis Bay.

“I’m feeling good about her being able to handle a mile,” said John Servis, who trains Cathryn Sophia for Cash Is King LLC. “She certainly seemed to handle seven-eighths well, and I liked the way she settled in so nicely behind horses. It’s really hard to get a line on how good this filly is because she’s very unassuming and doesn’t really show you much, other than when you put her on that rail in the afternoon.”

:: Gulfstream: Buy PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

Javier Castellano will replace the injured Joel Rosario aboard Cathryn Sophia, who will share the high weight of 122 pounds with Lewis Bay. Lewis Bay earned her impost by virtue of her 1 3/4-length decision over Thrilled in the Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct in her 2-year-old finale Nov. 28.

The well-traveled Thrilled also makes her first start since the Demoiselle in the Davona Dale. The Demoiselle marked the first start on dirt for the Uncle Mo filly, who finished second on grass in Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Miss Grillo at 2. Thrilled will race with blinkers for the first time in the Davona Dale.

:: Bet the Davona Dale Stakes with DRF Bets and get FREE access to this article and all of DRF Plus, including Gulfstream Park selections, video, and real-time analysis.

Both the undefeated Dearest and the recent stakes winner R Girls a Charmer will get a class check while stretching out to a mile for the first time Saturday. The two figure to help ensure an honest pace. Dearest has made both of her starts in sprints, and R Girls a Charmer is coming off a four-length wire-to-wire win against a much softer group in the seven-furlong Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.


Cathryn Sophia, by Street Boss

Last 3 Beyers: 91-94-92

◗ Like several other trainers in the race, Servis is using the one-turn Davona Dale as a stepping-stone for the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks at a two-turn 1 1/16 miles on April 2. “I would say I’m a lot more comfortable about the two turns after her last race,” said Servis. “The way she settled in her last race pretty much lets us put her where we want her.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Cathryn Sophia. Trainer John Servis is 13-1-1-1 with a $1.00 ROI over the past five years with last-out winners in a route for the first time. – Mike Hogan

:: Learn more about Formulator | Buy Formulator PPs
:: Follow the @DRFFormulator Twitter feed and get free Formulator facts

Lewis Bay, by Bernardini

Last 3 Beyers: 71-74-58

◗ She should prove the beneficiary of a lively pace while turning back off her come-from-behind victory in the two-turn, 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 4 Lewis Bay. Trainer Chad Brown is 19-3-3-3 with a $0.87 ROI over the past five years in dirt route graded stakes following a layoff of 45 days or more. - Mike Hogan

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 R Girls a Charmer. Trainer Mark Casse is 28-6-3-4 with a $2.52 ROI over the past two years with last-out winners in a route for the first time. - Mike Hogan