Peres International’s Yara reclaimed the lead from odds-on favorite Grace Hall at the top of the stretch and held her off to post a shocking 64-1 upset in the $350,000 Davona Dale (gr. II) (VIDEO) Feb. 25 at Gulfstream Park.
Fourth and beaten more than 22 lengths on a sloppy track in the Jan. 29 Forward Gal (gr. II) to begin her 3-year-old season, Calder-based Yara had much more to say in the 1 1/16-mile Davona Dale, which was her third victory in six lifetime starts. Jesus Castanon guided the daughter of Put It Back for trainer Jose Garoffalo.
A winner by a neck, she completed the distance on a fast main track in a swift 1:43.41. The chestnut filly was bred in Florida by Brambly Lane Farm and Steve Dwoskin, and is out of the Gilded Time mare Ashlee’s Lady.
Grace Hall, runner-up in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in November, was also making her season debut. With Ramon Dominguez in the irons, Grace Hall broke from post 2 and raced just to the inside of Yara through an opening quarter-mile in :23.79. Dominguez then made the tactical decision to send Grace Hall to the front, which was fine with Castanon, who sat just off the new leader on the outside through a half-mile in :47.71 and three-quarters in 1:12.38.
Grace Hall turned for home with a narrow advantage, but when they reached the eighth pole Yara reclaimed her lead. It was a duel all the way to the wire, but Yara never relinquished the lead again. Grace Hall, sent off at 4-5 for trainer Tony Dutrow, was 3 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Captivating Lass in the field of nine sophomore fillies.
“I saw (Grace Hall) right next to me, and when she went ahead and took the lead, my horse settled really nicely,” Castanon said. “My filly was just waiting for me to push the button, and when I did, she ran on really well. I was actually very confident coming into the race. I saw her race last time and I knew she had run some good races before that.”
Yara, purchased for $24,000 at the OBS 2011 spring sale of 2-year-olds in training when consigned by Nickajack/Rey de Oros, agent, won twice at Calder as a juvenile including the Joe O’Farrell Juvenile Fillies Stakes in November. She earned $250,000 for the Davona Dale victory, which included a $100,0000 bonus from the Florida Thoroughbred Owner/Breeder Association Fund. She has now earned $363,920.
“This is the biggest win of my career,” Garaffolo said. “I knew it was a tough field, but I was always confident that she would handle a distance. The owner (Anderson Castro) is from Venezuela and is investing in several horses over here, including some I have coming up.
“I picked this one out. The goal is the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) with maybe a race before then. I usually wait to see how they come out of a race to make more immediate plans.”
The winner returned a whopping $131, $38, and $14.40. The exacta (6-2) returned $530 and the trifecta (6-2-3) was worth $1,473.70 for $1.