02/21/2015 5:01PM

Ekati’s Phaeton alters tactics to upset Davona Dale

Barbara D. Livingston
Ekat's Phaeton, sent to the front by Luis Saez, pays $55.60 for her victory in the Grade 2 Davona Dale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In recent races for Ekati’s Phaeton, trainer Bill Kaplan wanted to get her to relax. Jockey Luis Saez got her to do so, but insisted she would be better if she was let roll. Kaplan relented, and when the new strategy was put to the test on Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes, Ekati’s Phaeton responded with a front-running, 26-1 upset over 12 other 3-year-old fillies.

 Ekati’s Phaeton ($55.60) got the lead soon after the start and then showed tremendous gameness down the stretch under Saez to hold off Birdatthewire and Eskenformoney in a thrilling, three-horse battle.

 Ekati’s Phaeton won by a neck over Birdatthewire, with Eskenformoney another neck back in third. Puca was fourth and was followed, in order, by Lassofthemohicans, Silverpocketsfull, Distina, Genre, Cavorting, Money’soncharlotte, Jacaranda, Enchantress, and Skipalute.

 After posting quarter-mile splits of 23.18 seconds, 45.60, and 1:10.65 through the first six furlongs, Ekati’s Phaeton completed the one-turn mile in 1:37.66 on the fast main track, meaning the final quarter took 27.01 seconds.

 In addition to the first prize of $120,000, Ekati’s Phaeton earned 50 points toward a potential berth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

 “This filly has the most speed of any filly I’ve ever trained, and I trained Musical Romance,” said Kaplan, referring to the winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. “We had been training her to try and relax, to stay off the leaders. The rider says she’s better up front, so I said, ‘Let her go.’ ”

Ekati’s Phaeton most recently had finished fourth in the seven-furlong Forward Gal, the prep for the Davona Dale, in which Birdatthewire and Lassofthemohicans ran one-two.

Kaplan said the Kentucky Oaks would be put under consideration, but admitted “we’ve still got to get her around two turns.”

Ekati’s Phaeton has tried two turns just once, on turf, and finished sixth. Her three wins prior to the Davona Dale were all at six furlongs.

 Ekati’s Phaeton has now won 4 of 7 starts. She was purchased as a yearling for $50,000 by former trainer John Dowd, who manages the stable of owners Jim and Mona Bryant’s Phaedrus Flights LLC.