04/30/2014 7:26PM

Davona Dale


Let's take a trip in the wayback machine and celebrate a champion filly.

Here's what the great Joe Hirsch had to say about Davona Dale's season in his "1979 Racing in Review" column from the 1980 American Racing Manual:

"Though she slackened stride in the second half of the campaign, Calumet Farm's Davona Dale was so impressive during the first half of the 1979 season that she earned the championship of the 3-year-old filly division.
While in the peak of form, during the spring Oaks events, Davona Dale was widely regarded as the finest of her age and sex to race in the United States since the star-crossed Ruffian. She inspired sufficient admiration to overcome the considerable handicap of a series of moderate performances at a time when the electorate is popularly believed to be formulating its opinion for the divisional titles.
Davona Dale, by Best Turn out of Royal Entrance, by Tim Tam, won eight of 13 starts during the season, with two seconds. Her earnings of $555,723 are a single-season record for 3-year-old fillies, breaking the old mark of $551,063 set in 1974 by Chris Evert.
She had one major challenger for the crown, and Harbor View Farm's It's In the Air cut it close, beating older mares with a flourish, first on the West Coast and then in the East..."

"...Tommy Trotter, the perceptive racing secretary and handicapper at Arlington Park, in his preparation of the annual Daily Racing Form Free Handicap at season's end, listed Davona Dale as a one-pound better filly than It's In the Air. Judging by the closeness of the vote in the Eclipse Awards balloting, Trotter's opinion was widely shared.
Between them, Davona Dale's sire and dam won 22 races, and the filly carried on a family tradition. A late development, she won both her starts at 2, and was so strong in a stakes victory on a sloppy track at the Meadowlands in late November that trainer John Veitch asked her to make her 3-year-old debut against colts in the rich Tropical Park Derby at Calder on January 13.
She trained diligently, as always, but Veitch didn't want to put too much pressure on her during the first month of the campaign and she might have been a trifle "short" for the Calder race. Favored at 13-10, and ridden by Jorge Velasquez, who had piloted her to her two victories, she came away nicely in a field of 12, despite drawing the outside post position, raced fourth much of the way but had no stretch rally and finished fourth..."

"...Veitch, whose frankness is refreshing, took the blame for insufficient preparation and the pointed Davona Dale for the Shirley Jones Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 14. The favorite for the six-furlong Shirley Jones was Candy Eclair, co-champion of her division at 2 and co-topweight among fillies, with It's In the Air, on the Experimental Free Handicap.
Candy Eclair, who trained at Gulfstream, was the 1-2 favorite. Davona Dale, who trained at Hialeah, was 27-10 second choice. It was a "laugher" for Candy Eclair. Under Tony Black, she flew out of the gate, opened a four-length lead after a first quarter in :22 and then went on to win by a length and three-quarters. She tired a bit toward the end of six panels in 1:08 3/5 but quite understandably felt the effects of the early fractions. Davona Dale raced well to be second, tried the winner through the stretch, cut into her margin but couldn't get to her.
Two weeks later, February 28, Davona Dale had her revenge and first victory as a 3-year-old. There was no wagering on the $27,850 Bonnie Miss Stakes at seven furlongs, which attracted a field of four. Once again Candy Eclair stepped away smartly, leading by a length and a half through a first quarter in :22 1/5. But Davona Dale was equal to the occasion. She remained close and was almost abreast through a half-mile in :44 2/5.
These two fine fillies, equally weighted at 122 pounds, matched strides to the furlong pole, their first six furlongs in 1:08 3/5. Then, in the final 70 yards, Davona Dale began to inch ahead and won by three-quarters of a length. Her seven furlongs in 1:21 missed the track record by a fifth of a second.
That triumph at Gulfstream Park was the start of a remarkable string of eight consecutive victories, achieved at six different racetracks, which stamped Davona Dale as something special. It may be argued that she was beating ordinary fillies for the most part, but she did it in a style that left a majority of observers with considerable respect for her talents..."

"...Back in the East, Davona Dale went on the road and turned up in New Orleans for the $59,350 Debutante Stakes at the Fair Grounds on St. Patrick's Day. Sent off at 3-10 against 10 opponents, she raced off the pace set by a 98-1 shot named Striving for Glory, took the lead at the head of the stretch, and went on to win by seven widening lengths. The mile and a sixteenth in 1:45 suggests Jorge Velasquez had something left under him at the end.
From New Orleans, Davona Dale journeyed to Hot Springs, Ark., for Oaklawn Park's $169,350 Fantasy Stakes on April 7. Caline had been flown from the West Coast, lending a note of intersectional interest to the mile and a sixteenth feature.
Sateen set the early pace. Caline, co-favorite with Davona Dale at 11-10, raced in second place under Shoemaker. Davona Dale, who stumbled at the start, was beginning to pick up her opponents after the first half-mile in :46 3/5. Caline went to the front on the turn but now Davona Dale was coming on swiftly, almost abreast.
The two fillies, Caline on the inside and Davona Dale on the outside, reached the furlong pole on even terms. Then Davona Dale began to edge away from Caline and won by two and a half lengths, Velasquez in the irons. Her time for the mile and a sixteenth was 1:44 2/5.
This was a big race for the winner, who overcame great travail at the start and beat a good stakes winner with authority. Those who had not realized it began to perceive that Davona Dale was a special lady..."

"...The Ashland set the stage for the 105th running of the $128,600 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 4. For the first time this ancient distaff counterpart to the Derby carried a value of $100,000 in added money and attracted a field of six. All eyes were on Davona Dale, whose presence during Derby Week was so commanding that many writers covering the Run for the Roses who had never looked at an Oaks prospect before went to the Calumet barn to see her.
Despite a sloppy track, Davona Dale was favored at 2-5 on Oaks Day and the 47,330 on hand anticipated a sixth Kentucky Oaks victory for Calumet. Candy Eclair set out as if to steal the race, opening a four-length lead. This was trimmed down the backstretch, however, as Davona Dale sped forward on the outside while Himalayan pressed the leader from the inside.
Turning for home, Candy Eclair, still enjoying a slight advantage, bore out, carrying Davona Dale to the middle of the track as they entered the stretch. Himalayan, on the rail, was near the lead. Davona Dale and Candy Eclair were even at the furlong pole, with Himalayan right there. Then Davona Dale began to draw off and won by four and a half lengths. Himalayan was second, two lengths ahead of California's Prize Spot while the tiring Candy Eclair was another half-length back.
Though her time for the mile and a sixteenth in the slop was 1:47 1/5, Davona Dale made a tremendous impression in victory. The following morning, watching her graze, Veitch said that in his opinion she was a better filly than Our Mims, Calumet's divisional champion of 1977.
Two weeks after the Kentucky Oaks, Davona Dale was at Pimlico for the 55th running of the $111,800 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (formerly the Pimlico Oaks). In a field of six, the Calumet miss was 1-10.
To the surprise of the crowd, Davona Dale went to the lead out of the gate, closely followed by Dr. Edgar Berman's Phoebe's Donkey, a hard-hitting daughter of Son Excellence who won a stake at Old Hilltop earlier in the spring. Davona Dale raced evenly, going the first six panels in 1:11 3/5. Then, turning into the stretch, she began to draw off from Phoebe's Donkey, winning by four and a quarter lengths. Her time of 1:42 3/5 for the mile and a sixteenth was good.
Eight days following the Black-Eyed Susan, Davona Dale was 3-10 for the 49th running of the $83,550 Acorn Mile at Belmont Park, first of the New York Racing Association's series for fillies which also includes the Mother Goose and the Coaching Club American Oaks. It was her third race of the month and her eighth of the year, all this by May 26. In retrospect, though she kept winning easily, and though her physical appearance remained attractive, the racing must have taken something of a toll.
Harbor View Farm's Eloquent, a winner of four stakes in California as a 3-year-old filly before coming east, set the early pace in the Acorn. Under Don Pierce, the Exclusive Native miss went a quarter in :22 3/5 and a half-mile in :45 2/5. Fall Aspen prompted the pace and Davona Dale came on from the middle of the field of eight.
Eased back from a perilous position between horses on the turn, Davona Dale was in high gear at the quarter pole and drew abreast of Eloquent at the eighth pole. Velasquez had to go to his whip in the drive but Davona Dale won by two and a quarter lengths, finishing the mile in 1:36. Eloquent, who ran well off the plane from the West Coast, beat stakes-winning Plankton by almost eight lengths for third money.
Where there were eight for the Acorn, there were only six starters in the 23d running of the $106,600 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont on June 10. Davona Dale, favored at 2-5, was razor-sharp and pulled Velasquez to the lead much earlier than usual. She was repsonsible for the half-mile in :45 3/5 and the six furlongs in 1:10. At the eighth pole, after a mile in 1:35 4/5, she lead by four lengths, well out in the middle of the track. She continued to draw off and won by 10 lengths while drifting to the wire, her nine furlongs run in 1:48 4/5.
Eloquent, Plankton and Seascape, second, third and fourth, respectively, in the Acorn, finished in the same order in the Mother Goose.
Only four opposed Davona Dale in the 63d running of the $132,625 Coaching Club American Oaks, the most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies in the U.S. Through the years it is invariably won by an outstanding filly, and the 1979 renewal was no exception.
For the June 30 running at Belmont, Davona Dale was 1-10. Palm Hut made the early running, the methodical pace (a half-mile in :49 1/5) prompted by Rock 'n Royalty. Davona Dale, sluggish during the early stages, went to the front after a mile in 1:38 3/5. Placed in the middle of the track by Velasquez, she drew away with ease and won by eight lengths in a tepid 2:30 for the 12 furlongs. Plankton was second, edging Croquis.
Davona Dale was freshened following her sweep of the NYRA series, which track officials like to term the Triple Crown for Fillies. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Kentucky Oaks, the Pimlico Oaks and the Coaching Club American Oaks were known as the Filly Triple Crown. Thus, by several standards, Davona Dale was a Triple Crown star, and the winner of eight races in a row..."

"...Despite this fine form, despite the fact It's In the Air was the only speed in the race, and despite the fact the favorite hadn't started since June 30, the 27,786 on hand for the 99th running of the $108,300 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on August 11 went heavily for Davona Dale, sending her off at 3-10 in a field of five. This resulted in a minus show pool totaling $58,197.
It's In the Air sprinted out of the gate to lead through a quarter in :24 1/5 and a half-mile in :49. That was the key to the race. Had Davona Dale pressed It's In the Air from the start, to a half-mile in :46, it might have been a different story. As it was, Fell was content to let It's In the Air gain an easy lead. Davona Dale moved a bit closer to the leader down the backstretch but the Harbor View filly was able to shake off the challenge very smartly.
They went six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 and the mile in 1:36 4/5, and Davona Dale drove at It's In the Air on the turn. The favorite couldn't match the leader, however, and It's In the Air began to edge away near the quarter pole. She had a three-length advantage at the furlong pole and seemed ready to cruise home. But Davona Dale was a champion and champions aren't finished at the eighth pole. She came again, forcing Fell to employ his whip aboard It's In the Air. At the wire, the winner was straight as a string, with the margin of a length and a half on the Calumet filly after a mile and a quarter in 2:01 2/5.
Once again, Veitch stepped forward and accepted blame for the defeat, suggesting Davona Dale wasn't quite tight enough for the Alabama. He added that he would run Davona Dale against the colts the following Saturday in the Travers because "it is a wonderful opportunity to make a fool of myself two weekends in a row."
Actually, with Spectacular Bid sidelined and Coastal, the Belmont winner, awaiting fall racing in New York, the 110th Travers on August 18 looked like a reasonable spot for the Davona Dale we saw all spring. The public thought so, too, sending her off the 27-10 favorite in a field of seven. But after showing life for six furlongs she was finished and only her inherent class enabled her to save fourth money behind General Assembly, Smarten and Private Account..."

"...The Maskette Mile on September 12 was the occasion for another meeting of Davona Dale and It's In the Air. This time neither was the winner. In a dramatic and pulsating finish, Ogden Phipps' 3-year-old filly Blitey, by Riva Ridge out of champion Lady Pitt, came on at the end to score by a neck under 112 pounds, Angel Cordero Jr. in the saddle. It's In the Air, who finished second, carried 122 pounds and lost little caste in defeat. The 5-year-old mare Pearl Necklace, who was coming off six consecutive victories, and who was favored at 11-10, finished a nose behind It's In the Air under 125 pounds.
Davona Dale, well placed during the early stages, flattened out in the drive and finished fourth, beaten three and a quarter lengths for third. Later, Veitch said his filly was through for the year. She would have a lengthy freshening and then point for a 4-year-old campaign in 1980.
Veitch harbored thoughts during the year he might take Davona Dale to France for the Arc de Triomphe. Her handy score in the mile and a half Coaching Club American Oaks suggested she would not be out of place at Longchamp, but she simply was not the same horse after the CCA Oaks that she was before..."

"On March 17, 1980, while in Miami preparing to return to the racing wars, Davona Dale was measured by Veitch. She stood 16.1 hands at the withers, girthed 73 inches, measured 49 inches from point of shoulder to point of hip, was 54 inches from buttock to ground, and was 17 inches from point of shoulder to point of shoulder. A winter of rest and natural maturity gave her measurements slightly larger than she had while winning the 3-year-old filly classics the previous spring, but even at that stage of her career she was a filly of eye-catching proportions. She carried herself regally, with her head held high and the "look of eagles" about her. She was a champion in every respect..."

Davona Dale's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

Why the sudden interest in Davona Dale?  Well, it's always nice to remember past Kentucky Oaks winners this time of year and...

Dan, are you going to divulge your pick in the Derby?

...Davona Dale is the third dam of HOPPERTUNITY, my pick in this year's Kentucky Derby. Considering my Derby record, it is safe to assume that the curse of Apollo will live on for another year. We'll get into the thought process tomorrow, but my top four are:

Wicked Strong
California Chrome

Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (4/21/14 - 4/27/14):

1. AUSSI AUSTIN - 104 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile - Aqueduct
1. STORM FIGHTER - 104 - Tiznow Stakes - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
3. ANAHAUC - 100 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - Churchill Downs
4. BIG LOOIE - 99 - Milwaukee Avenue Handicap - 1 1/16 Miles - Hawthorne
5. BIG LEGACY - 98 - Alw 5000s - 6 Furlongs - Hawthorne
5. LUBASH - 98 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Aqueduct
7. DASHING DAVID (IRE) - 97 - OC 35k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
7. GRAND CONTENDER - 97 - Texas Mile (G3) - 1 Mile - Lone Star
7. UNITARIAN - 97 - Elkhorn Stakes (G2) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
7. VYJACK - 97 - OC 100k/C -N - 7 Furlongs - Aqueduct
7. ZIVO - 97 - OC 75k/C -N - 1 Mile - Aqueduct
12. TELL ALL YOU KNOW - 96 - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Keeneland
13. CONVOY CAPTAIN - 95 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Penn National
13. PARRANDA - 95 - Wilshire Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita
15. EMBELLISHING BOB - 94 - Derby Trial Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - Churchill
15. MAGIC MARK - 94 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
15. QUICK CASABLANCA (CHI) - 94 - Last Tycoon Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita
15. WHISKEY REBELLION - 94 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Thistledown
19. INIMITABLE ROMANEE - 93 - Bewitch Stakes (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
19. ITSMYLUCKYDAY - 93 - Best of the Rest Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Gulfstream
19. SINATRA - 93 - OC 50k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Aqueduct
19. TOP KISSER - 93 - Spring Fever Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
23. BERNARDO - 92 - OC 30k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Aqueduct
23. KITTY WINE - 92 - Alw 59557N1X - 7 Furlongs (POlytrack) - Keeneland
23. LEADEM IN KEN - 92 - Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Fonner
23. PEPPER CROWN - 92 - San Francisco Mile Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Golden Gate
23. SOVEREIGN DEFAULT - 92 - Clm c-12500 - 1 Mile - Aqueduct

*The lifetime past performances for AUSSI AUSTIN and STORM FIGHTER are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*SOVEREIGN DEFEAULT was claimed for $12,500 by trainer Eduardo Jones from Linda Rice.


Let's take a look at some interesting Formulator Facts for Thursday's card at Belmont:

Race 1:

Trainer:  Chad Brown
Past 2 Years, Turf to Dirt, Routes:  11-27 (41%, $3.04 ROI)

Trainer:  Kiaran McLaughlin
Past 5 Years, Sprint to Routes, Dirt, First Time Lasix:   3-10 (30%, $3.06 ROI)

Race 2:

Trainer:  David Jacobson
Past 1 Year, Dirt Sprints, Winner Last Out, Mid-Claiming $10,000 to $40,000), Belmont:   7-16 (44%, $2.80 ROI)

Trainer:  Chris Englehart
Past 4 Years, Dirt Sprints, Mid-Claiming ($10,000 to $40,000), Belmont:   17-65 (26%, $2.88 ROI)

Race 3:

Trainer:  Kiaran McLaughlin
Past 5 Years, Dirt Routes, Optional Claiming, 2nd After Layoff:   4-10 (40%, $3.30 ROI)

Trainer:  Rudy Rodriguez
Past 5 Years, Dirt Route, Winner Last out, 61-180 days, Optional Claimer:  3-10 (30%, $3.19 ROI)

Race 7:

Exits Key Race (3rd-, 4th-finishers returned to win with 86, 76 Beyers, respectively)


I will therefore say this for the 100th time on here. The times of 99% of Euro races are meaningless. We race to beat the opposition, not the clock. There is rarely a general intention to run flat out from start to finish. Yes, some trainers employ a pacemaker (your rabbit), but that is to ensure some pace in the race and prevent a sprint finish, not to produce a flat out gallop.
Please Dan, can you not inform your readers of this completely different philosophy?
Best Regards - Bernard Downes

Couldn't have put it better myself.


You might be right about Indian Express running in Panama. I think he was actually a Utah-bred. Dan... could I bother you for his pp's....that might be kind of amusing... it also might remind me that I was behaving rather irrationally that Derby week...

The past performances for INDIAN EXPRESS are available at the bottom of this blog post.


*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.
















You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman

All of the weekend's Grade 1 stakes videos should be available at the following link by Friday afternoon.



Congrats to Curtis V. Slewster for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

We'll go with the Kentucky Derby for this week's HandiGambling event.

The following wagers will be allowed:

1. Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby DAILY DOUBLE

2. Kentucky Oaks/Woodford Reserve Turf Classic/Kentucky Derby PICK 3

3. Kentucky Derby


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Davona Dale.pdf65.14 KB
Aussi Fighter.pdf732.09 KB
Indian Express.pdf681.28 KB
Copy of Formblog Churchill 4-26-14.xls72 KB
HGDERBY.pdf219.83 KB