52-1 shot Wholebodemeister stuns Davona Dale; Vequist 9th

52-1 shot Wholebodemeister stuns Davona Dale; Vequist 9th
Photo: Eclipse

Sabana Farm’s Wholebodemeister rolled to commanding 6½-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, scoring a 52-1 upset with a dazzling front-running performance.

The Davona Dale, a mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies, was one of nine stakes worth more than $1.4 million on a 14-race program headlined by the Fountain of Youth (G2), a key prep for the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) on March 27.

Vequist, the 2020 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile filly who was sent to post as the 1-2 favorite, made a brief bid on the far turn before fading to ninth in her first start since capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland Nov. 6.

Juan Carlos Avila-trained Wholebodemeister ($107.60) broke alertly to show the way to her 11 rivals while being pressed by Adios Trippi along the backstretch. The daughter of Bodemeister shook off the challenge on the far turn and opened a clear lead that would only lengthen to the finish line under Edgard Zayas. Crazy Beautiful closed to finish second under Robby Albarado, 1½ lengths ahead of Competitive Speed and Leonel Reyes.

Wholebodemeister, who had finished third in the Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream in her prior start, ran a mile in 1:36.89.

“Last time, it was a troubled trip,” Zayas said. “She’s still learning a lot. I remember last time she was between horses and she didn’t like it. The last eighth she found some space and she went through it and only got by a little more than a length. I knew she would be solid if I could keep her in the clear.

“My plan was just to break out of there, put her on the lead and see what she got.”

Wholebodemeister, who may very well have earned a berth in the April 30 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs by earning 50 qualifying points Saturday, is likely to return to action in the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on March 27.

“I’m very happy, very happy. She’s ready for the next race,” Avila said through an interpreter. “She’s little but she has a big heart. She’s super hyper and is difficult to train, but I had a lot of confidence in her because when she breezes, she’s really good.”

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