03/13/2013 3:02PM

Oaklawn Park: Lady Diva Ga Ga returning to preferred distance Friday

Coady Photography
Cowgirl N Up returns to racing against females Friday after finishing second against males in the $50,000 Bucharest Stakes at Sam Houston.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Lady Diva Ga Ga will get back to the distance of her last two wins Friday at Oaklawn Park, when she starts in the ninth race, a $100,000 optional-claiming sprint for fillies and mares at six furlongs. A field of eight will go, including Ire, the third-place finisher in last month’s Mardi Gras Handicap at Fair Grounds, and Cowgirl N Up, a stakes winner two starts back at Sam Houston.

Lady Diva Ga Ga made her stakes debut last out in the $60,000 Spring Fever at Oaklawn and finished third, losing by a length. Prior to that 5 1/2-furlong race run Feb. 17, she won two allowances at six furlongs, both at Oaklawn.

“She wants a little further distance,” said Phil Sims, who trains Lady Diva Ga Ga for the partnership of Nelson McMakin and Fred Dolezal.

Sims is hoping for smoother sailing for Lady Diva Ga Ga than she had in the Spring Fever, where she hit traffic approaching the quarter pole.

“She had to check, broke stride, and that probably cost her a place or two,” he said. “She came flying and couldn’t quite run them down.”

Jon Court has the mount on Lady Diva Ga Ga, who will break from post 4.

The optional claimer Friday is expected to produce starters for the $100,000 Carousel at Oaklawn on April 11, and that race is a goal for Lady Diva Ga Ga, Sims said. She has thrived over the local surface and has put up the best three Beyer Speed Figures of her career here, an 88, 87, and 80.

Ire won a $40,000 optional claimer at Fair Grounds on Jan. 25, one start before finishing third by a length in the Mardi Gras on Feb. 12.

Cowgirl N Up returns to racing with fillies and mares after finishing second against males in the $50,000 Bucharest last out at Sam Houston. Prior to that race, she won the track’s $50,000 Yellow Rose.

[REBEL STAKES: Get Oaklawn PPs and watch video previews]