Gulfstream Oaks: Yara, Grace Hall Meet Again
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Yara won the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on February 25.

While Florida-bred Yara pulled off the major upset last time, Grace Hall and six other 3-year-old fillies are waiting for her in the $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II) March 31 at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/8-mile contest, which is a traditional prep race for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), is the 10th race on the card and is slated for 5:03 p.m.

Yara enters the Gulfstream Oaks off a gutsy, 64-1 upset victory in the 1/16-mile Davona Dale (gr. II) Feb. 25. In that race, she stalked the pace and prevailed by a neck over heavy favorite Grace Hall.

Trained by Jose Garoffalo for Peras International, Yara started her 3-year-old campaign with a distant fourth-place effort behind Broadway's Alibi in the Jan. 29 Forward Gal (gr. II), also at Gulfstream. Last year, the chestnut daughter of Put it Back—Ashlee’s Lady, by Gilded Time raced exclusively at Calder Casino and Race Course and scored in the restricted Joe O’Farrell Juvenile Fillies Stakes.

“She worked good last Saturday (five furlongs in 1:02 at Calder) and will be much better for this race than she was for the last one,” said Venezuelan-born Garofallo, who scored his first graded stakes victory in the United States with Yara. “She will like the extra half-furlong and the likely slower pace this time going a mile-and-an-eighth.”

Winning three of her six lifetime starts, Yara has earnings of $363,920. The filly, who was bred by Brambly Lane Farm and Steve Dwoskin, will break from rail under jockey Jesus Castanon. She will carry 122 pounds, while all the other fillies in the field will tote 116.

Grace Hall, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Empire Maker—Season’s Greetings, by Ezzoud, made her sole start this year in the Davona Dale, but she has been working steadily this spring at Palm Meadows Training Center. In her most recent drill, the bay covered five furlongs in 1:01.30 March 25.

“She has trained really well since the Davona Dale,” said trainer Tony Dutrow. “We have her right where we want her to be for the Oaks. The only disappointment was she was a big favorite and she lost to a longshot. In the big picture, winning was the only thing she didn’t do, but that race was not the main objective. I think she ran great.”

Owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and the Elkstone Group, Grace Hall burst onto the 2-year-old scene last year with a score in the Spinaway (gr. I) at Saratoga in her second start. Her only defeat last year was a solid second behind eventual champion My Miss Aurelia in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

Bred by Darley, Grace Hall was a $95,000 purchase at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. She will be ridden by Jose Castellano and will break from post 5.

The other key contenders include Zo Impressive and Hearts of Red, who are both undefeated in two starts at Gulfstream and are making their stakes debuts; and Captivating Lass, a stakes winner at Aqueduct who finished third in the Davona Dale.

$300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II, race 10, 5:03 p.m.) 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Yara (FL), J L Castanon, 122, J Garoffalo
2. Zo Impressive (KY), R Maragh, 116, T Albertrani
3. Hearts of Red (KY), E S Prado, 116, R E Nicks
4. Captivating Lass (KY), J R Velazquez, 116,  K P McLaughlin
5. Grace Hall (KY), J Castellano, 116, A W Dutrow
6. The Cat's All That (KY), E Trujillo, 116, C Peery
7. And Why Not (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, M R Matz
8. Emma's Encore (FL), J Bravo, 116, H A Jerkens
 

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