Onlyforyou remained unbeaten with a front-running tally in the $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park as jockey Javier Castellano and trainer Todd Pletcher teamed for their fourth win on the program (VIDEO).
Even-money choice Onlyforyou was a little anxious in the gate and sprinted to the front in the 1 1/16-mile main track test for 3-year-old fillies. Vying on the front end with Aurelia's Belle, the Malibu Moon miss beat back a challenge from House Rules rounding the final bend to win smartly by 2 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:43.71.
"She's got natural speed and we don't want to take that away from her," Pletcher said. "We let her break and see how she got to the first turn. She luckily broke well after misbehaving in the gate a little bit and was able to get to the position we wanted. (House Rules) ran a big race and put some pressure on her down the backside and she was able to keep finding a little more."
Castellano, comfortably on top of the Gulfstream meet jockey standings, won his fifth race on the card in the Davona Dale.
The only disappointment for Pletcher, who won his fourth Davona Dale, was that 3-1 second choice Stopchargingmaria didn't run better in finishing fifth.
House Rules, ridden by Alex Solis, finished second in the eight-horse field by half a length over Aurelia's Belle and Joe Rocco Jr.
Onlyforyou set fractions of :24.12, :47.23, 1:11.27, and 1:36.64.
Onlyforyou was trying two turns for the first time in her career after taking three sprints effortlessly to begin her career. Owned by Glencrest Farm, she was coming off a 2 3/4-length victory in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II)) in her stakes debut Jan. 25 at Gulfstream.
Pletcher said Onlyforyou hinted she might even go longer, though he said he hadn't decided on a next target.
"After she got by the wire she kind of pricked her ears a little bit like there might still be something left," he noted.
Bred in Kentucky by Elm Tree Farm and Popatop out of the Tactical Cat mare Erhu, Onlyforyou was a $115,000 Keeneland September yearling buy in 2012.
Onlyforyou boosted her career earnings to $308,100 and returned $4.20 $2.80, and $2.40. House Rules, game in defeat in his first start against winners for trainer Allen Jerkens, returned $4.80 and $3.40. The exacta was worth $21.20. Aurelia's Belle paid $4.20.
"It was a great effort the way she did it," Castellano said. "She set strong fractions at the beginning of the race and she was under pressure the whole race. She handled it so well."
Penwith was fourth, followed by Stopchargingmaria, Luna Santa, Abou, and Holiday Magic.
Of Stopchargingmaria's effort, Pletcher said, "She got a very wide trip into the first turn from post eight and coming off a layoff, I think that hurt her quite a bit."