02/19/2015 12:55PM

Jacaranda looks to pace herself in Davona Dale

Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
Jacaranda won the one-mile Tempted by 3 1/2 lengths.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In both of her starts last year, Jacaranda overpowered her rivals, cruising to daylight victories. She also wanted to get aggressive in the early going.

Her trainer, Mike Hushion, believes the ability is still there and hopes Jacaranda will be more tractable in the first stage of races, a combination that would make her a formidable opponent in a wide-open running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Jacaranda beat maidens in her debut at Belmont Park, then stretched out to a one-turn mile and won the Grade 3 Tempted. The Davona Dale, like the Tempted, is a one-turn mile. The difference is that Jacaranda faced six rivals in the Tempted. There are 13 others in the Davona Dale. Drawn in post 3, Jacaranda can’t afford to get shuffled back, but if she goes too fast too soon with all the other speed in the lineup, that won’t help either.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 3 Jacaranda. Trainer Mike Hushion is 21-0-4-2 over the past five years at Gulfstream Park, including six losses as post-time favorite, four of which were odds-on. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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“She’s got to learn to cool it a little bit,” Hushion said this week at Palm Meadows, where Jacaranda is stabled. “I think she’s getting better in that department.”

Among those facing Jacaranda is Cavorting, who also won the first two starts of her career – including the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga – but has been off since fading in the Grade 1 Frizette.

“She just tailed off a little, so we sent her to Stonestreet, to Ian Brennan, for a freshening,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Cavorting.

Cavorting worked twice at Stonestreet and has three works at Palm Meadows since returning to McLaughlin.

“She’s a light-framed filly,” McLaughlin said. “She doesn’t need a lot to get ready. She’s ready to go, but I do think this race will help a lot going forward.”

Birdatthewire and Lassofthemohicans, one-two in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Forward Gal last month, and Puca, idle since a tough trip in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, are among the top contenders in this terrific betting race.

The Davona Dale offers 85 points – including 50 to the winner – under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the May 1 Kentucky Oaks.

KEY CONTENDERS Jacaranda (Career Beyers: 72-77)

◗ Her speed figures are only moderate, but there’s no denying how visually impressive she was in her races last year.

Cavorting (Career Beyers: 61-89-80)

◗ Her only loss came on a sloppy, sealed track, so there’s ample reason to believe she can return to her best form on dry land. She has the speed to contend early, but from post 12, she likely will employ the stalking tactics that resulted in her Adirondack victory.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 12 Cavorting. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is 32-4-4-5 with a $1.19 ROI over the past five years in graded stakes following a layoff of 61 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Birdatthewire (Last 3 Beyers: 87-78-67)

◗ She got a dream setup in the Forward Gal and will hope for a similar pace scenario this time, especially with many of the Forward Gal’s speed horses back for another go-round.

Lassofthemohicans (Last 3 Beyers: 80-85-75)

◗ Was no match for Birdatthewire when settling for second in the Forward Gal. She won a one-turn mile when defeating maidens here earlier at this meet.

Puca (Last 3 Beyers: 78-80-69)

◗ Came into the Breeders’ Cup off a 16-length victory against maidens at Belmont Park but had severe traffic trouble when trying to rally over a track that at that point was not kind to late runners. This will be her second start with Lasix.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Puca. Trainer Bill Mott is 27-10-5-5 with a $2.49 ROI over the past five years in dirt route graded stakes following a layoff of 61 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 Eskenformoney. Trainer Todd Pletcher is 27-12-4-4 with a $2.54 ROI over the past five years with last-out winners in dirt route graded stakes at Gulfstream Park. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 9 Enchantress. Trainer Todd Pletcher is 5-4-1-0 with a $4.80 ROI over the past five years going sprint to route in dirt graded stakes at Gulfstream Park. Click for more details. Mike Hogan