- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Yara on course for Kentucky Oaks
Following her fifth-place finish in the last week's Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks, trainer Jose Garoffalo has indicated that Peras International's Grade 2-winning filly Yara is on target for a start in this year's running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
"That was the initial plan before her last race and we're going to stick to it," Garoffalo remarked Friday morning. "We're looking forward to running her in the Oaks; for now that's the plan."
A two-time winner at Calder last year, including a victory in the Joe O'Farrell Juvenile Fillies on Florida Million Day, Yara began her three-year-old season with a fourth-place performance in the Grade 2 Forward Gal before returning to post a shocking 64-1 upset in the Grade 2 Davona Dale.
"She showed us in the Davona Dale just how good she really is," Garoffalo said. "It was that effort that proved to us she deserved a shot at a race like the (Kentucky) Oaks. That win (over Grace Hall) showed that she can definitely run with, and beat, those kinds of horses."
Yara followed her Davona Dale triumph with a start in the Gulfstream Oaks, where the daughter of Put It Back dueled on the lead and was still forwardly placed through the final turn before backing up down the lane to finish fifth.
"The fractions were extremely fast that day," Garoffalo explained. "She ran three-quarters in 1:10. When you compare that with the boys one race later (in the Grade 1 Florida Derby), they went (three-quarters) in 1:12, so clearly she was going fast.
"I don't think we were ever beating the winner (Grace Hall) that day, but if she could have slowed things down just a bit early, I think we realistically could have finished second. But the most important thing is that she came out of the race good, she's training normally, there are no issues, and we're looking forward to Kentucky."
Garoffalo also has three horses nominated to the $150,000 Calder Derby, to be run on April 14.
"Right now, Late Night Action is likely for that race," Garoffalo said. "He was just third in a very tough race at Gulfstream where he was beaten only a length by a couple of nice horses (fellow Calder Derby nominees Easy Crossing and Argentine Tango), so he's our best Calder Derby candidate."
Owned by Rontos Racing Stable Corp., Late Night Action was claimed from Starlight Racing and trainer Todd Pletcher for $75,000 out of a February 18 maiden-breaking win.