Owner Peter Bradley can tell when his filly Dayatthespa is starting to tout herself. Her chestnut frame swells up, her diva-like attitude goes to level 10 and the end result usually sparks a dose of pomp and celebrating on her connections’ end.
“I think she’s in that mode now,” Bradley warned from Keeneland this week.
Lexington’s bucolic track has yet to fail to spark that kind of response from Dayatthespa. In Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 First Lady Stakes, the 4-year-old daughter of City Zip will aim to make it three wins from as many starts over the Keeneland turf when she breaks from post No. 6 in the one mile test.
Dayatthespa’s first venture to the track saw her capture the Grade III Appalachian Stakes last April but she was even more dominant last Fall when she topped a bang-up field which included Grade I winners Samitar and Stephanie’s Kitten in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Stakes last October.
What was an unblemished 2012 season to that point came to a frightening end for Dayatthespa in last November’s Grade I Matriarch when she tried to jump the inside rail at Hollywood Park and suffered a laceration on her right front. Seriously injury was thankfully spared but trainer Chad Brown was especially careful in making sure the high-spirited filly wasn’t rushed into putting that incident behind her.
“If you ask 10 different people you can get 9 different opinions on what happened that day,” said Bradley, who owns the filly along with Jerry Frankel, Ron Frankel and Steve Laymon.
“It’s hard to say what happened but the good news is she came out of it well enough that she’s gone on with her career and hopefully we’ll get another good year out of her.’
“As bad as it looked, it didn’t affect her tendon. It was just something that took some time to bring her back.”
Dayatthespa didn’t make her seasonal bow until this May, getting an instant confidence booster when she won the You Go West Girl by four lengths at Belmont. Though she was pointed to both the Grade I Just a Game on June 8 and the Grade I Diana Stakes on July 27, Brown opted to scratch her from both spots to run instead in the Grade III Eatontown at Monmouth, where she was second behind Grade I winner Laughing, and the Yaddo Stakes at Saratoga on August 16, which resulted in a 1 3/4-lengths triumph.
“You know the first problem in the Just a Game was there was torrential rain that weekend and she does not like soft going,” Bradley said. “Then she went to the race at Monmouth and had a really tough race and just wasn’t quite ready for the start at Saratoga so we gave her more time. We went to the Yaddo which was a good start to get her confidence back and now she’s training on all cylinders.”
The First Lady has a deep field in its own right with Grade I winners Daisy Devine and Better Lucky in the mix along with graded stakes winner Miz Ida and Hungry Island.
Bradley isn’t sure they would wheel Dayatthespa back for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf even with a victory Saturday, but he hasn’t ruled out conquering an old demon.
“We’d probably toy with the idea of the Breeders’ Cup although she’s never gone 10 furlongs,” he said. “It’s in the back of our mind that it might be too far for her. And we might go back out to California and go for the Matriarch again and try that.”