October 7, 2014
It’s a rare filly that can win on debut at storied Saratoga as a 2-year-old and compete in the Breeders’ Cup, cap a five-race winning skein at three with a Grade I victory, and still be around at five winning Grade I’s.
But then, few would argue that Dayatthespa isn’t a rare filly. Her numbers speak for themselves. Ten wins in 17 starts. Nine stakes wins. Four graded wins. Two Grade I victories. And over $1.18 million in earnings.
Purchased by Pete Bradley and owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Jerry and Ronald Frankel and Steve Laymon, Dayatthespa showed early she had star quality. In her unveiling for trainer Chad Brown at the Spa, she blitzed a 5 1/2-furlong maiden in 1:03 flat. Shipped to Canada for her next, she ran a game second in the G3 Natalma at Woodbine, finishing two lengths ahead of another talented upstart, Stephanie’s Kitten.
That foe went on to win the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and while Dayatthespa found the ground against her that afternoon, she would soon rebound in grand fashion.
In her first start at three, Dayatthespa rallied from 12 lengths back to win Gulfstream’s Sweetest Chant S. She added the track’s G3 Herecomesthebride next out, then defeated the Grade 1 winner Somali Lemonade in Keeneland’s G3 Appalachian. In Saratoga’s Riskaverse, Dayatthespa made it four straight.
That set things up for an epic renewal of the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup back at Keeneland, traditionally the premier race for 3-year-old grass fillies in the country. And it shaped up to be just that. Included in the field were the present and future Grade 1 winners Stephanie’s Kitten, Centre Court, Samitar (GB), Better Lucky, Somali Lemonade, and Tannery (Ire). In fact, there was only one horse in the race who wasn’t or wouldn’t be a Grade I winner. But the QEII was all Dayatthespa.
In a front-running masterpiece, Dayatthespa pulled Javier Castellano to the fore, led by daylight throughout and unleashed a remarkable turn of foot in the stretch to win by a comprehensive two-length margin. How dazzling was her stretch run? Dayatthespa completed her final eighth in :11 2/5.
The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Jennie Rees wrote, “At the beginning of the year, trainer Chad Brown thought Dayatthespa had a chance to be America’s best 3-year-old turf filly. Saturday before the crowd of 28,337 jammed into Keeneland, she looked like just that.”
Chad Brown’s post-race comments would prove prophetic. “This filly is a keeper,” he said. “She is a career horse. Not a horse where we have to get what we can, running her against her own age. She’s a horse who is going to be good from 2 to 5, if we take care of her.”
Needless to say, Brown and Co. took care of her, and in turn, Dayatthespa took care of them. At four, Dayatthespa added stakes wins at Belmont and Saratoga, and just missed a second Grade 1 when beaten a head by Better Lucky in the G1 First Lady S. at Keeneland.
Dayatthespa got off to a late start for the 2014 season, but she quickly made up for lost time, defeating the Grade 1 winner Discreet Marq in the Yaddo S. at Saratoga. It was the fourth straight year that Dayatthespa won a race at Saratoga, no mean feat.
Sufficiently tightened, Dayatthespa then returned to Keeneland to avenge her 2013 First Lady loss. Just like the QEII two years earlier, it was another masterpiece. Pressing early, Dayatthespa employed her trademark kick in the stretch and opened up by two lengths. With a top field that included four Grade 1 winners charging behind her, Dayatthespa was never seriously threatened, sprinting home a 1 1/4-length winner.
To win a single Grade 1 race at Keeneland takes some doing. To win two at Keeneland puts Dayatthespa in truly rarified air, occupied only by a few truly remarkable race mares. Mares like Take Charge Lady, Inside Information, and Silverbulletday.
The 102 Beyer Speed Figure Dayatthespa earned in the First Lady was the top in the nation for a female turf horse. In fact, on the Daily Racing Form’s top 30 ranking of turf Beyers in the nation at that point, Dayatthespa was the only female on the list, and her fig was just shy of the 103 Beyer that Wise Dan earned winning the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile two races later.
In the end, the same traits that made Dayatthespa a terrific racehorse–speed, class, brilliance–also make her a terrific broodmare prospect. On the evening of Nov. 3 at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, the best breeders in the world will have a chance to add those traits to their broodmare bands.