Daytona B Dominates $353,500 Bank of America Challenge Championship

The 4-year-old son of First Down Dash scores a 1 3/4-length win in the Grade 1, 440-yard stakes.

Q-Racing Journal

Daytona B powers to a 1 3/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1, 440-yard Bank of America Challenge Championship. PHOTO: Dustin Orona

Making his first start in more than six months, Daytona B sprinted to a wire-to-wire, 1 3/4-length win in Saturday’s $353,500 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Lone Star Park.

Daytona B covered 440 yards on a fast track in :21.263 and earned a 99 speed index under jockey Esgar Ramirez. Rolando Almanza saddled the 4-year-old First Down Dash gelding for owner Gregorio Garcia Garza.

In his most recent out, Daytona B scored a nose victory in the 440-yard, $106,000 Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park on April 18. He prepped for the Challenge Championship with a pair of 220-yard breezes at Lone Star, including one from the gate on October 8.

“He had time off and his trainer kept him strong,” said Ramirez, who also rode Daytona B in the Sam Houston Championship Challenge. “Tonight he felt good, and when I asked him he took off. He never took a bad step.

“He was getting faster and faster,” added the rider. “It was a perfect race for the horse.”

Almanza said the break after the Sam Houston campaign was just what the horse needed.

“After Houston, I knew I had to give him a break,” he said. “He had lost a lot of weight, and (tonight) I would’ve been happy to run in the top three. He came back well. He was ready for tonight, and we are so proud of him. He’s the real deal.”

Daytona B was bred in Texas by Bielau Oaks. The gelding has won eight of 17 races, including four of his last five. In addition to earning the $161,000 winner’s share of the Bank of America Challenge Championship purse, which pushed his lifetime earnings to $472,353, he landed a berth in the 440-yard, $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos Racecourse in December.

“I had a dream that he would win by daylight tonight,” said Garza. “Rolando is an amazing trainer and a good friend.

“We’re not sure if we’re going to the Champion of Champions,” he added. “The horse’s welfare is very important to us, and he has to be 100 percent for us to consider sending him to California.”

Eyesa Famous Eagle ran second and was followed by Jake Gold BR, Rockin Disco, BH Lisas Boy, Sign Of Corona, Diamonds Edge, Jessies First Down, Mister Big, Wagon Full Of Gold, and Rocketair.

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