Bred by Mike Rutherford out of the Spectacular Bid mare Oil Fable and raced by Goncalo Borges Torrealba to a 4-8-2 record from 24 starts, including victories in the 1995 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) and Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II), Cara Rafaela showed early promise as a 2-year-old for trainer D. Wayne Lukas after she was purchased by Albatroz Bloodstock for $70,000 from Rutherford's Manchester Farm consignment to the 1994 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Cara Rafaela was runner-up by half a length to My Flag in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), and also ran against the boys in the 1996 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III), where she finished fourth. As one of the top 3-year-old fillies of her generation, she registered runner-up finishes in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) and Ashland Stakes (gr. I), was third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), ran second in the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II), and concluded her sophomore campaign with a third in the Mother Goose (gr. I).
Cara Rafaela retired in 1997 with earnings of $884,452. She was purchased privately by Sheikh Mohammed in 2002 while in foal to A. P. Indy, carrying Bernardini.
Bernardini went on to become one of Sheikh Mohammed's most successful runners, winning the 2006 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Jim Dandy (gr. II), Travers (gr. I), and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) en route to an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old colt. Bernardini's accomplishments led to Cara Rafaela being named the 2006 Broodmare of the Year.
Pensioned in 2014, the Quiet American mare had been living out her retirement at Sheikh Mohammed's Gainsborough Farm near Versailles, Ky. Her final foal, a son of Tapit named Brookline, is a 2-year-old maiden in training with Michael Stidham who ran third last out in his second start for Godolphin Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.