Tonalist’s Shape remained perfect in five starts with a front-running victory in the $200,000 Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
With the win, Tonalist’s Shape earned 50 points towards the Kentucky Oaks and a likely spot in the Churchill Downs’ starting gate the first Friday in May.
By Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, Tonalist’s Shape improved to 5-for-5. She previously won the Hut Hut Stakes and Forward Gal (G3) most recently, both at Gulfstream Park. Owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Legacy Ranch and Doug Branham. Mike Recio’s Rockbridge Bloodstock brokered the deal for Branham’s share in the exciting filly.
Trained by Saffie Joseph, Tonalist’s Shape was hustled to the front by Tyler Gaffalione and the pair held off odds-on favorite Spice is Nice in the stretch to win by 1 1/4-lengths. Tonalist’s Shape completed one mile on a fast track in 1:36.77.
Spice is Nice, who was made the heavy favorite based off a smashing debut win at Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher, held second to earn 20 points towards the Kentucky Oaks. She was followed by Dream Marie (10 points) and Reluctant Bride (5).
Tonalist’s Shape was sent off the 2-1 second choice and paid $6.20.
“Very gutsy filly, she did it the hard way…I know it looked like that other horse was going to get to her, but she did it the hard way,” Joseph told TVG from the winner’s circle.
Tonalist’s Shape held a slight edge down the backstretch with plenty of company near the front, including Spice is Nice. Tonalist’s Shape went the opening quarter mile in a mild :23.84 before picking things up through a half mile in :46.93 and six furlongs in 1:11.26.
Spice is Nice ranged closer Tonalist’s Shape exiting the turn, but Tonalist’s Shape spurted clear and opened up a 2 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole. Spice is Nice stayed on well through the stretch, but proved no match for the winner.
“I didn’t really expect to be in front but she broke so sharp and nobody really wanted the lead so I went ahead and took it. She was cruising along nicely,” Gaffalione said. “I know she wants to run all day so I wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger a little early, and she’s just a really nice filly.
“She knows how to win, that’s the important thing,” Joseph said. “She’s not flashy in the morning, but when it comes race day, she’s so calm. In the barn she can be almost over the top, but on race day she’s calm,” Joseph said. “The main thing is we’ve secured our spot for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). We’ll talk it over, but the Gulfstream Oaks makes sense.”
With her latest win she is approaching $300,000 in earnings.
Tonalist’s Shape wasn’t the only Rockbridge Bloodtock success on the huge 10-stakes card at Gulfstream Park. Rockbridge Bloodstock/John Fahey OBS April purchase Silver Kitten ran a sharp 2nd in the Honey Fox Stakes (G3), her stakes debut.
The Canadian Turf S. (G3) was by Sombeyay whose dam was purchased by Rockbridge Bloodstock for Ruis Racing at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton November sale. In the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) graded stakes winner Phat Man closed well for 2nd to push his career bankroll over the $500,000 mark. Rockbridge purchased his 1/2 sister at the 2020 OBS January sale on behalf of Brushy Hill Enterprises.