Dayatthespa on Firm Footing in Sweetest Chant Stakes
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Dayatthespa was on firm footing in Saturday’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park Sunday, helping her to rebound from an off-the-board finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G2) in her 2011 finale with a 1 ¾ -length victory in the turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Dayatthespa was sent to post as a strong 7-5 favorite in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies on the strength of a four-length maiden score in her debut at Saratoga last August and a subsequent runner-up finish in the Natalma Stakes (G3), two lengths ahead of Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten, at Woodbine in September.
“She likes the firm ground like it was today. I don’t want to make an excuse for her Breeders’ Cup (ninth), but Ramon (Dominguez) said that it was probably too soft for her and she didn’t care for it,” trainer Chad Brown said.
Dayatthespa settled well off the pace under jockey Javier Castellano, as Ready Signal set solid fractions of :23.01, :47.05 and 1:10.85 while leading the way to the top of the stretch. Castellano asked the Dayatthespa for some run leaving the backstretch, and the New York-bred filly responded with a strong kick, sweeping around tiring horses on the turn and taking dead aim at the leaders in the stretch.
After Ready Signal faded badly in the stretch, Frolic’s Revenge and Wholelottashakin fought it out for supremacy in mid-stretch, but Dayatthespa was in full stride to the outside and roared past them to victory.
“I expected to be much closer to the pace, but she broke just a step slow today. Fortunately, they went much faster up front than I expected. She settled beautifully and when I asked her, she picked it up really quickly,” Castellano said. “I had no choice but to go around horses on the turn and to go a little wide. I was really satisfied with how she ran today and I think she’s a really nice filly.”
Brown was also surprised that his filly was so far back early.
“She didn’t break good and got back further than we expected. Javier used good judgment and tucked in,” he said. “There was a good pace up front and they tired, so it worked out.”
Dayatthespa ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:34.43. Wholelottashakin, who was ridden by Alex Solis, finished second, 2 ¼ lengths clear of Frolic’s Revenge and jockey Jose Lezcano.