Dayatthespa became the New York breeding program’s latest Grade 1 winner on Saturday when she dominated the field of Keeneland’s Grade 1, $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with a wire-to-wire performance that ran up her 2012 record to a perfect five-for-five.
Campaigned by a partnership formed by Pete Bradley’s Bradley Thoroughbreds and headed by Jerry Frankel, Ronald Frankel and Steve Laymon, Dayatthespa was facing her toughest test to date in the nine-furlong QEII Challenge Cup – her Grade 1 debut and a field comprised of the likes of Grade 1 winners Samitar (GB) and Stephanie’s Kitten.
Well-drawn in the outside post under jockey Javier Castellano, Dayatthespa had ample opportunity in the long run into the first turn to use her natural early speed to gain the lead by the time the field passed the finish line for the first time.
Dayatthespa proceeded to dictate a comfortable pace through the first half mile (49.11), as Better Lucky tracked loosely two lengths back.
In the far turn the field closed ranks and positioned themselves for a challenge in the drive – but to no avail. Dayatthespa kicked free in the stretch to win by a comfortable two-length margin having never faced a serious challenge. Centre Court, winner of the Grade 2 Lake George at the Spa this summer, finished second, while Better Lucky, Lake George runner-up, completed the trifecta, just a nose ahead of Samitar. After six furlongs in 1:13.96, the final time over the firm Keeneland turf was 1:48.99. [VIDEO REPLAY: http://youtu.be/RKfsazpdT0g].
Javier Castellano said, “I thought the pace was going to be moderate today, and I took advantage. My filly, she’s really quick out of the gate. On the turn for home at the quarter pole, I asked her a little bit and she responded. When she took off, I just let her go – hand ride.”
“I was pleasantly surprised [by the slow early pace],” said winning trainer Chad Brown. “We thought it could end up like that on paper but you never know. You’ve got great jockeys riding in this race; a lot of them can handicap well. I didn’t know what everyone was going to do. When I saw the three-quarters up in (a minute) :13, I was feeling pretty good.”
Brown will discuss with the partnership group a possible start for Dayatthespa in the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in Santa Anita, but “that’s not the way we were thinking going into the race,” Brown said. “We’ll just enjoy this and plan out the rest of her year from here.” He added, “As [Dayatthespa] grows and matures, she’s become more settled, which has helped us train her and has helped [jockey] Javier [Castellano] rate her, and I think her best days are ahead of her.”
A 3-year-old chestnut daughter of City Zip, Dayatthespa has only finished once out of the exacta in an eight-race career – namely in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, where she finished just 5 1/2 lengths behind winner Stephanie’s Kitten.
Earlier this year, Dayatthespa annexed the Sweetest Chant and Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park, Keeneland’s Grade 3 Appalachian and the Riskaverse at Saratoga. Her record now stands at 8-6-1-0 and the Grade 1 victory carries her earnings well past the half-million dollar threshold to $574,892.
Bred by Castellare DiCracchiolo Stable, Cracchiolo and Goldsher, and foaled at Empire Stud in Hudson (Vinery New York), Dayatthespa changed hands only once at public auction, going to Sarazen Stable as a $50,000 Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred Yearling in 2010.
Her dam M’Lady Doc is an unplaced daughter of Doc’s Leader, and half-sister to Phi Beta Doc, a Grade 3 winner and turf course record-setter at Saratoga and Colonial Downs. M’Lady Doc has produced three winners from three starters, including New York-bred $126,140-earner Doc Can Do (Quiet American). Her last reported foal is a 2-year-old colt, The Big Deluxe (Silver Wagon), who has not started.