02/23/2013 5:26PM

Gulfstream Park: Live Lively uses speed to conquer Dreaming of Julia in Davona Dale

Tom Keyser
Live Lively, ridden by Joel Rosario, handles her first two-turn assignment in the Davona Dale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -   Trainer Mark Hennig said he was excited about stretching out his filly Live Lively around two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $250,000 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park.  He was even more excited in the winner’s circle after the race following Live Lively’s wire-to-wire 1 1/2-length victory over the 4-5 favorite Dreaming of Julia in the Grade 2 fixture for 3-year-old fillies.

Live Lively, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, came into the Davona Dale riding following back-to-back wins, including an 11 1/4-length score over entry-level optional $75,000 claimers going seven furlongs on New Year’s Day. With regular rider Joel Rosario aboard, Live Lively sprinted right to the lead in the 1 1/16-mile Davona Dale and rated on the front end through modest fractions of 23.54 seconds, 46.77,  and 1:10.21 over a very fast track. She then had plenty left when set down for the drive to hold off a bid from Dreaming of Julia, who was making her first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Private Ensign turned in an even effort to finish third. Lady Banks was a distant fourth while Twice Told Tale was eased to the wire.

Live Lively returned $6.20 after covering the distance in 1:42.30, her final time just .49 of a second off the track mark set by Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull four weeks earlier.

“I figured she’d fall out of there and be there, especially first time going long. It was just a matter of whether somebody was going to be there with her,” said Hennig, who trains Live Lively for owner Lee Lewis. “She’s got a good turn of foot and she’s also never showed us any lack of stamina. I was pleased. Her preparation couldn’t have gone any better for this and I was expecting a good race from her.”

Hennig said in all likelihood Live Lively will return in the Grade 2 Florida Oaks on March 30.

“She seems to love training at Palm Meadows and she’s come down here and just looks like a picture when she comes to the paddock. She doesn’t get stirred up by the shipping,” said Hennig. “I don’t see any point running around to another racetrack at this point.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he was also happy with Dreaming of Julia’s effort, even in defeat.

“I thought she ran extremely well, we were sort of at the mercy of the pace scenario so I think we had to take her out of her comfort zone earlier than we wanted to keep some pressure on the winner,” said Pletcher. “We were just second best today and I was very happy with it for her first start since the Breeders’ Cup and spotting six pounds to some quality fillies.”