HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Sunday's Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park drew one of the strongest and most competitive fields in the 30-year history of the event, a group that included recently named Eclipse Award winner She Be Wild. But in the end, the seven-furlong fixture for 3-year-old fillies proved no contest as Bickersons ran her 10 rivals off their feet en route to a convincing seven- length triumph over the 51-1 Joanie's Catch.
Bickersons spent the latter part of her 2-year-old season on the West Coast where she had an up and down campaign which included an easy win in Hollywood Park's seven-furlong Moccasin Stakes and a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf. She also turned in a couple of disappointing performances when finishing 10th behind She Be Wild in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and a distant fifth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet.
Bickersons, a daughter of Silver Deputy, turned in some sharp works at Palm Meadows since returning from Southern California, including a 33.80-second three-furlong gate drill just a week before the race.
"She had some starting gate issues so we did a little work with her after she got back here and when she blew out in 33-and-4 I was just hoping she didn't leave her race in the starting gate," said Kelly Breen, who trains Bickersons for owners Lori and George Hall.
Obviously she did not.
Breaking alertly under jockey Joe Bravo, Bickersons stalked the pace of the previously unbeaten, Grade 3 winner Richiegirlgonewild for nearly five furlongs before readily taking command approaching the quarter pole. Bickersons opened a comfortable advantage entering the stretch and was not threatened thereafter.
Joanie's Catch, who finished second behind Richiegirlgonewild at 48-1 in the Old Hat, rallied along the inside to best the others. Liam's Dream finished a troubled third.
She Be Wild, making her first start on conventional dirt and first since clinching her 2-year-old championship with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, raced wide while close up but had no closing kick and finished a tiring fifth.
Bickersons completed the distance in 1:22.35 over a fast track and paid $21.
"I'm sure this filly will go two turns with the right company but she can go seven furlongs with anybody," said Breen. "She could have been in front today if we wanted her to but I told Joe the same thing I told Joe Talamo before she won the Moccasin, that this filly doesn't need the lead."
Breen said he is undecided about where Bickersons would run next but mentioned the Grade 2, one mile Davona Dale on Feb. 27 as a possible option.