By MICHAEL COMPTON
Florida-bred Yara pushed by a stubborn Grace Hall late to emerge victorious in the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The 3-year-old daughter of Bridlewood Farm stallion Put It Back lit up the tote board, scoring by a neck at odds of 64-1 under Jesus Castanon. She paid $131 for $2 to win after being timed for the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43:41 over the fast track.
“My instructions were to put her right up there and she broke good,” said Castanon. “I saw the two [Grace Hall] right next to me and when she went ahead and took the lead, my horse settled really nicely. 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 going a mile and I knew she had run some good races before that.”
Trainer Jose Garoffalo saddled the winner for Peras International. The winner was bred by Brambly Lane Farm and Steve Dwoskin.
“This is the biggest win of my career,” said Garoffalo. “I knew it was a tough field, but I was always confident that she would handle a distance. She broke well and that was a key to the race. 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 ($24,000 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.”
Grace Hall was game in defeat for trainer Anthony Dutrow and owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group.
“She’s a very forward filly and today off the short layoff she was a little sharpe,” said jockey Ramon Dominguez. “She broke forward and when I saw the six horse [Yara] break sharp too I had all intentions of sitting right off her. When that horse slowed it down even more I decided to go to the front and I don’t regret it. My filly is a great filly and I think she’ll just get better coming out of this race.”
Darley Stable’s Captivating Lass finished third, 3 ½ lengths behind Grace Hall.