New York-bred Dayatthespa took the lead straight to a two-length victory in the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) on the turf at Keeneland Oct. 13, remaining undefeated in 2012 with five wins in a row (VIDEO).
Trained by Chad Brown, the 3-year-old City Zip filly covered 1 1/8 miles wire-to-wire on the Lexington oval's Haggin Course in a final time of 1:48.99 on firm going under Javier Castellano. She rolled off a score in the Aug. 31 Riskaverse at Saratoga Race Course and has victories in the Appalachian (gr. IIIT), Herecomesthebride (gr. IIIT), and Sweet Chant Stakes as well.
Dayatthespa was a $50,000 purchase in 2010 at the Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga sale of preferred New York-bred yearlings.
"As she's grown and matured she's become more settled, which has helped us train her and helped Javier rate her," Brown remarked. "I think her best days are ahead of her."
Castellano was able to get away with a tepid pace in the QEII, setting early fractions of :24.52 and :49.11 while opening a 1 1/2-length advantage on seven other sophomore fillies in the early going. Dayatthespa relaxed well on the front end while rolling through three-quarters in 1:13.96 shadowed by Better Lucky.
Responding well when set down for the drive after a mile in 1:37.56, Dayatthespa held off the late challenge of Centre Court, who closed from fourth to get the place. Better Lucky was all out to hold the show by a nose over Samitar.
"I handicapped the race and I didn't see a lot of speed," 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!"
Stephanie's Kitten, the 2-1 favorite, was third on the rail turning for home but flattened to wind up sixth.
Dayatthespa returned $8.40, $4.60, and $3.60 while Centre Court paid $5.80 and $3.60 and Better Lucky paid $6.60.
Bred by Castellare DiCracchiolo Stable, Cracchiolo & Goldsher, Dayatthespa is out of the Doc's Leader mare M'Lady Doc. She races for Jerry and Ronald Frankel, Steve Laymon, and Peter Bradley's Bradley Thoroughbreds. She now has six wins and a second from eight starts with earnings of $574,892. Her finish outside the top two was a ninth in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs.
Brown said a bid at the Nov. 2-3 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park had not originally been in the cards for his filly, but a discussion would be had about whether to run her in the 1 1/4-mile Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
"That's not the way we were thinking going into the race, (but) I'll talk it over with all the partners," he said. "You never know. She may go a little bit further than this, but we'll just enjoy this and plan out the rest of her year from here."
Wayne Catalano, who trains Stephanie's Kitten for owners Ken & Sarah Ramsey, said the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) winner would likely not continue on to the Breeders' Cup.
"It's a surprising race for us," he said. "We've never had one run like that. You'd hate to go to the Breeders' Cup off a race like that."