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Fly So High Gives McGaughey 2,000th Win in Davona Dale

Mar 3, 2018
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey earned his 2,000th career victory in style Saturday as Phipps Stable’s Fly So High swept to the lead at the top of the stretch and edged clear to win the $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

The 31st running of the one-mile Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies was the fifth of nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.5 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program anchored by the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), featuring the sophomore debut of 2017 champion juvenile male Good Magic.

Fly So High ($4.80), favored at 7-5 in a field of eight, completed the distance in 1:38.69 over a fast main track for her third consecutive win, giving McGaughey his milestone victory as well as his fourth in the Davona Dale including its inaugural year of 1988.

“Obviously, I’m thrilled about it,” McGaughey said. “There’s a tremendous amount of people to thank for it. I’m the guy who gets the credit, but there are a lot of people behind the scenes that deserve the credit.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz pulled up and dismounted Fly So High, a bay daughter of Malibu Moon making her fourth career start and first in a stakes, shortly past the wire as a precaution after feeling something off in her left front leg. She walked onto a waiting horse ambulance sound, according to McGaughey.

Take Charge Paula, a winner of three straight stakes including the Forward Gal (G3) last out Feb. 3 at Gulfstream, veered her right from the gate and kept Fly So High, breaking from the far outside post, in the middle of the track down the backstretch before taking on Alter Moon through a quarter-mile in 24.37 seconds.

Alter Moon took over the lead and went a half in 47.79 with Heavenhasmynikki in pursuit and Ortiz keeping Fly So High in the clear four wide. Heavenhasmynikki rounded the far turn in front as Fly So High began rolling on the outside and steadily wore down the front-runner to win by three lengths over a resurgent Take Charge Paula. It was three-quarters of a length back to Heavenhasmynikki in third.

McGaughey, a Lexington, Ky. native, took out his trainer’s license in 1979 after serving as assistant to David Whiteley. He notched his first Grade 1 win with Try Something New in the 1983 Spinster at Keeneland.

The 67-year-old trainer has campaigned many champions including Easy Goer, the 1989 Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) winner; and Personal Ensign, who retired undefeated after nipping Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. He also trained Eclipse Award winners Heavenly Prize, Inside Information, Queena, Rhythm, Smuggler, Storm Flag Flying and Vanlandingham.

McGaughey realized a lifelong dream when he saddled Orb for a victory in the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) after visiting the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle with the son of Malibu Moon following his triumphs in the Florida Derby (G1) and Fountain of Youth (G1).

$200,000 Davona Dale (G2) Quotes

Trainer Shug McGaughey (Fly So High): “I couldn’t see anything major. Jose said when he turned around he felt something a little funny. I thought she walked on the van sound. She was a bit bumped up obviously, so when I get back to the barn I’ll be able to tell more. As far as anything major, she didn’t palpate sore; she didn’t flex sore palpate; Maybe she did something to her foot or jammed something. But when I got over there it wasn’t like her leg filled up or anything like that.”

“I thought Jose put her in good position. I told him in the paddock, ‘Once she gets her feet under her, they’ll have a tough time outsprinting her.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz (Fly So High): “She felt a little sore in her left front. When I asked her to go she was taking care of herself a little bit, but I felt like she had a chance to win so I kept riding. She didn’t feel bad all the way, but when I pulled up and she jogged, she was a little off.”

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