Peras International’s Yara went into Saturday’s $250,000 Davona Dale
Stakes at Gulfstream Park unheralded after winning two of five starts in
sprints, the first four at Calder last year. But the 3-year-old
Florida-bred filly won a long head-to-head duel with Michael Dubb and
partners’ 4-5 favorite Grace Hall in the stretch to score by hard-fought
triumph by a neck in the 1 1/16-mile test.
A strong field of nine 3-year-old fillies lined up for the Davona Dale
with Grade 1 winner Grace Hall making her first start since finishing
second to Eclipse champion My Miss Aurelia in the $2 million Breeders’
Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 for trainer
Ridden by jockey Jesus Castanon, Yara broke sharply to take command
around the turn and into the backstretch until jockey Ramon Dominguez
brought Grace Hall up to challenge from the inside midway through the
backstretch, taking the lead briefly. The two fillies fought it out to
deep stretch before Yara edged away to victory. Darley Stable’s
Captivating Lass finished third, 3 ½ lengths behind Grace Hall.
“This is the biggest win of my career,” Florida-based trainer Jose
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,” added Garaffolo, who paid $24,000 for the
daughter of Put It Back at the 2011 OBS April 2-year-old sales. “The
goal is the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with maybe a race before then. I usually
wait to see how they come out of a race to make more immediate plans.”
Garaffolo instructed Castanon to get Yara involved in the pace right from the start.
“I saw the ‘2’ (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
Yara had finished fourth, beaten 22 ½ lengths in the seven-furlong
Forward Gal Stakes (G2) over a sloppy Gulfstream track in her previous
start on Jan. 29. She paid $131 for $2 to win Saturday after being timed
for the 1 1/16 miles in 143:41 over the ‘fast’ track.