Peras International’s Yara, winner of the Grade 2 Davona Dale and an aspiring Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks participant, was on the Calder Casino & Race Course main track Friday morning putting in her final piece of local morning work in advance of her upcoming journey to Louisville.
“She breezed this morning,” Garoffalo said from his office in barn 62 of the Calder stable area. “I got her in 1:02, and she had a good gallop-out. She’ll fly up to Churchill on Sunday.”
Once in Louisville, Garoffalo will allow the daughter of Put it Back to acclimate to her surroundings before getting a bit more serious with the filly later in the week.
“We’ll just jog her a few days, and then I plan on giving her one good strong gallop over the track next Friday (April 27),” Garoffalo said. “That will be her final ‘work.’ Then we’ll just jog and light-gallop her up to the race. She’s the kind of horse that you don’t have to do too much with.”
A longtime conditioner on the south Florida circuit, training horses at Calder on a regular basis since 1999, Garoffalo will be making his first Churchill Downs start when Yara heads to the gate for this year’s running of the Oaks.
“It’s exciting; it’s a big deal,” Garoffalo said. “It will be my first time ever running a horse at Churchill Downs, and what a race to do it in. I was there yesterday setting up the stall for her. Everything is ready, and now we’re just waiting for the race.”
Garoffalo plans to fly to Kentucky on Tuesday to join his filly.
FONTANA FINDS LONGSHOT ‘GOLD’ THURSDAY
On a day when just one favorite found the winner’s circle at Calder, trainer Charlie Fontana unleashed the biggest Thursday surprise when winning the third race with Honor’s Gold, who returned $41.20 for his unexpected 5 ½-length triumph.
“He couldn’t take the shipping,” Fontana said, in regards to the colt’s four failed starts at Gulfstream Park this year. “He was just a horrible shipper. Each time it just knocked him out. And after his last start, I said ‘that’s it, enough’ and decided I wasn’t going to run him again until we got here. It paid off."
In the past, Fontana had split time between south Florida and Boston, but the trainer plans on remaining at Calder for the duration of the summer.
“I’ll send some to Suffolk, but I’m going to stay down here.”
HUGO SANCHEZ WINS FIRST RACE OF CAREER; THEN WINS AGAIN
Apprentice jockey Hugo Sanchez won the first race of his young riding career on Thursday when guiding Alejandro through the wire first for trainer Bisnath Parboo. Three races later, the 20-year-old Peruvian native was back in the winner’s circle again, getting his picture taken for the second time after Trump Card prevailed, also for Parboo.
“He’s young and he’s still learning, but I think he’s going to do pretty good,” agent Jose Sanchez said. “His dad (Marcos) used to ride horses, and so did his brother (Oscar), so it’s in his blood.”
Sanchez the agent would know a thing or two about detecting talent in Sanchez the jockey. At the 2010-11 Tropical Meet, Sanchez handled the riding assignments for then five-pound apprentice Jose Alvarez, who won that meet’s riding title with 43 wins while besting longtime leading rider Manoel Cruz and the up-and-coming Luis Saez in the process.
“I had success working with (Jose) Alvarez as an apprentice, and I just hope to have success again with Hugo,” Sanchez said. “If we can get lucky and get hot for the right barn, I think his career can take off.”