HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Trainer Chad Brown had a great season last year with Grade 1-winning filly and mare turf stars Stacelita and Zagora. Brown now appears to have an emerging turf stakes filly prospect in Jerry Frankel and partners’ impressive Sweetest Chant winner Dayatthespa, the likely favorite in Sunday’s $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes going 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
Leading jockey Javier Castellano was aboard Dayatthespa to win the Sweetest Chant by 1 ¾ lengths and will be back aboard. The New York-bred daughter of City Zip was making her first start in the Sweetest Chant since finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, although beaten only 5 ½ lengths for it all.
“Ramon (Dominguez) came back and said she just didn’t handle the course (Churchill), that it was too soft,” said Brown. “We loved her race in the Sweetest Chant and she’s training great. We’ll just hope for firm ground on Sunday.”
In two starts before the Breeders’ Cup, Dayatthespa won her career debut sprinting on turf at Saratoga and finished second in the Natalma Stakes (G3) over the Woodbine course.
The Herecomesthebride has drawn a deeper field than the Sweetest Chant and Dayatthespa’s rivals in the field of eight include John Oxley’s highly-accomplished pair of Dixie Strike and Northern Passion, first and fourth, respectively, for trainer Mark Casse in the Florida Oaks (G3) on turf at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 4. Jockey Jose Lezcano rides Dixie Strike while Luis Contreras is named on Northern Passion.
A chestnut daughter of First Samurai, Northern Passion won her debut sprinting on Polytrack at Woodbine in July and finished second in the Ontario Debutante before rallying from last of 12 to win the Natalma in her first start on turf. Northern Passion came back to finish a close-up fourth in the Florida Oaks (G3) on turf at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 4, beaten less than a length with trouble in the race.
Dixie Strike was likely the less fancied of the two Oxley runners in the Florida Oaks but may have gotten the cleaner trip to win by a nose. The daughter of Dixie Union was making her first start on turf after posting two wins and two seconds in as many starts on Polytrack at Woodbine last year, winning the Ontario Lassie in early December by 5 ½ lengths.
Parting Glass Stable’s Wholelottashakin finished second to Dayatthespa in the Sweetest Chant in a good effort and comes back Sunday with jockey Alex Solis back aboard for trainer Tom Bush. She is a New York-bred by Scat Daddy and broke her maiden sprinting on turf at Belmont in September. Wholelottashakin ran well enough when rallying for sixth in the Ginger Brew here on Dec. 24, beaten only 1 ¾ lengths for it all.
Shadwell Stable’s Kentucky homebred Almusafa will get solid support with jockey John Velazquez to ride for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin after she posted a very impressive allowance victory over the course on Jan. 26. The daughter of Shadwell stallion Haafhd won her debut on turf at Aqueduct in late November and finished fifth with trouble in the Ginger Brew Stakes here on Dec. 24, beaten only 1 ¼ lengths for it all.
Completing the field for the Herecomesthebride are Stride Rite Stable’s Frolic’s Revenge, Paco Lopez; Chasing Tails Stable’s Ann of the Dance, Elvis Trujillo; and Steven Ciccarone’s Regalo Mia, J.L. Castanon. Michael Tabor’s Wait Til Dawn was entered to run ‘main track only’ by trainer Todd Pletcher.
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