Kathleen O. Keeps it Going in Davona Dale

Winngate Stables LLC’s very promising Kathleen O. (Upstart) remained undefeated and stamped herself as a leading GI Kentucky Oaks contender with another impressive victory in Saturday’s GII Davona Dale S. at Gulfstream.

Backed down to 2-1 favoritism from a 9-2 morning line, the rail-drawn dark bay trailed the deep field of seven early. Up a spot into sixth following an opening quarter in :23.38, she was under a ride rounding the far turn while racing in between horses. Stuck in a little traffic approaching the quarter pole, Javier Castellano found a lane as they straightened and Kathleen O. charged home in style while securing 50 qualifying points for this year’s Kentucky Oaks. Previously unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ Classy Edition (Classic Empire), a perfect three-for-three versus fellow New York-breds, was up for second.

The narrow winner of a somewhat key seven-furlong heat at Aqueduct first up in the mud in November, Kathleen O. most recently aired by 8 1/2 lengths in the track-and-trip Cash Run S. on New Year’s Day.

“She did break good today, but she just doesn’t have the speed to stay up with them,” winning trainer Shug McGaughey said. “The way she finished, pretty remarkable, especially over this track. I think this is a big move for a filly coming into this race off just two starts. I mean, I hope she keeps improving. Today, she had to make her room a little bit, so I’m sure she learned quite a bit today. That would be my preference to keep her here [for the Gulfstream Park Oaks] and not have to ship her for the Ashland [at Keeneland]. I’m pleased so far. I would think that [increased distance to 1 1/16 miles] shouldn’t be a problem.”

Castellano added, “I liked the way she did it today. She doesn’t have the speed to be close to the horses, but I loved the way she finished. She always breaks slow out of the gate, but that’s her style. Every horse is different. Turning for home, I was loaded. I was just looking for the seam and trying to split horses and that’s exactly what I did.”

Pedigree Notes:
Airdrie Stud’s third-crop sire Upstart is in a sweet spot with his sophomores this year. Not only does he have Kathleen O., who was ranked third in this week’s TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 prior to her Davona Dale score, but he also has the colt Zandon in a prominent spot on the TDN Derby 12. With the Davona Dale, Kathleen O. becomes Upstart’s second graded winner. She was already one of his six black-type winners, with another seven runners knocking on the door with stakes performances.