Vel Donna kicked off the Tuesday, May 2 racing program at Yonkers with a win in the specialty race. Named “Can You Go the Distance?” the half mile event featured a field of seven vying for the $25,000 purse.
Vel Donna started her journey from post five with Austin Siegelman in the bike as the second longest shot on the board. She left the gate in a rush, and beat all her opponents on the inside easily, clearing over to the lead before the first turn. A couple horses from the outside also left and were able to tuck in behind her as she rolled to the quarter in :26.2.
Around the final turn, horses were out and making their move, including Golden Quest N and Joe Bongiorno who had tracked them in second the entire way. Vel Donna had pressure coming at her from the outside but she held them all off, winning by one length in :55 seconds flat. Golden Quest N finished second over Chuppah On and Brent Holland for third.
Vel Donna paid $52.00 for the win. The six-year-old daughter of I Can Only Imagine is owned by Cliff Grundy of Michigan and trained by Mike Watson. Alvin Schwartz bred the mare, who earned her second win of 2023.
Vel Donna was part of the fleet of horses that competed on the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit for Trainer Larry King as a two and three-year-old. She won her first race at Portland as a two-year-old and made the $20,000 ISFC Championships as a three-year-old. After racing in the Midwest for King and later Brooke Nickells, Vel Donna changed hands a few more times before landing at Yonkers last summer. She has been with Grundy since the summer of 2021 and with the Watson Stable since June of 2022.
To date, Vel Donna has 14 wins in 111 starts and earnings of more than $137,000. Her best time was taken as a four-year-old at Hawthorne in 1:51.3. Vel Donna is a half sister to the Artstanding gelding standout Feelnlikearockstar with a mark of 1:50.4 and nearly $400,000 in earnings. She has a two-year-old half-brother, Vel Joe, by Lets Drink On It, for the 2023 racing season debut.
The second of three divisions of the “Can You Go The Distance” half mile sprint was also won by an Indiana sired mare as Coral Bella and Brent Holland led the field around the track. After reaching the quarter in :26.4, Coral Bella sprinted to the wire in :55.0, one length ahead of Miki Rose and Jason Bartlett. Lady Dela Renta A and Braxten Boyd finished third.
Coral Bella paid $3.50 for the win. The seven-year-old Hypnotic Blue Chip mare is owned by My Buddy Stables and trained by Michael Forte. Nathan Lehman bred the mare, who earned her fourth win of 2023 and her 25th overall. She now has more than $336,000 in earnings and a best mark of 1:53.2 taken as a five-year-old at Yonkers Raceway.