Folklore, the presumptive champion 2-year-old filly in 2005, proved vulnerable Monday at Santa Anita in her first start since capturing the Alberto VO5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 29. But owners Robert and Beverly Lewis still had reason to celebrate when entry mate Dance Daily held on to win the $150,000 Santa Ynez (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies during the Martin Luther King Day program.
With substitute rider Jon Court aboard, Dance Daily won her first graded stakes for the Lewises and trainer D. Wayne Lukas as a supplemental runner. As part of the 1-5 entry, she overtook the pacesetter Folklore, also trained by Lukas, inside the eighth pole and just held off Talullah Lula, charging late along the inside, for the victory by a nose. Folklore, who carried 123 pounds (eight more than both of the first two finishers) held on for third, three-quarters of a length behind.
The final time for the seven-furlong test was 1:23 1/5.
"All I can say is we kept it in the family," Lukas told HRTV. "Folklore is already a grade I winner and she'll go on to bigger and better things, so we're happy to get this one (Dance Daily) a stakes win. I supplemented her and it cost a little more ($3,000), but I thought she'd make a little bit of noise in the race and she did.
"In Folklore's defense, she was coming off a long layoff on three works and I think she got a little late right there at the end, but she'll be back. We'll build off this. I'm not too concerned."
In her seven previous starts, Folklore had never been worse than second. Her 2-year-old campaign included wins in Belmont Park's Matron (gr. I) by 14 lengths and a victory in Saratoga's Adirondack (gr. II), in addition to the BC Juvenile Fillies. She was the only stakes winner in the field of six.
Dance Daily, breaking from the outside, led from the gate before Folklore, with Eastern-based Edgar Prado aboard, pulled her way to the lead. She set comfortable fractions of :23, and :46, but came under a ride in upper stretch when she failed to pull away from the field as Dance Daily closed in from the middle of the track.
They completed six furlongs in 1:10 2/5 as Dance Dailey ground her way to the lead. But the winner nearly left herself short in the final strides while drifting out slightly under strong urging from Court near the wire. Tulullah Lula and Garrett Gomez powered home along the inside after getting clear and reached even terms with the winner in deep stretch, but just missed.
"(Folklore) didn't get tired," Prado insisted afterward. "She came home running, but she just got run down today. She did everything right. She was good on post parade. She went to the gate good. She did everything but win. The 123 pounds didn't help. We've got a race in her now, and there's better things ahead this year."
Court took over the mount on Dance Daily shortly before the race after Victor Espinoza was excused for the remainder of the day.
"Victor took off and Mr. Lukas asked for me, and I felt honored at the opportunity ... without even looking at The Form
, I said, 'Yeah,' without question.'
"I felt grateful that Wayne had the confidence in me to get the job done, and I did just that today. I gave (Prado) every opportunity but I waited to make my last final run and, when I did, it was enough to hang on by a half a head."
The winning daughter of Five Star Day
-Dance Alexa (Southern Halo) had fared poorly in all three of her graded stakes tries as a juvenile. After Dance Daily's eighth-place finish in the Golden Rod (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 26, she was shipped to Southern California. She ran sixth of seven in her first try at Santa Anita, the Blue Norther at one mile Jan. 1, a race that was switched from the turf to a wet-fast main track.
"She didn't like the track at all," Lukas said of the Blue Norther. "It was a wet track, and she struggled every step of the way."
Lukas previously won the Santa Ynez four times, with Serena's Song (1995), Wising Up (1985), Gene's Lady (1st division, 1984), and Terlingua (1979).
Dance Daily won for the third time in nine lifetime starts and increased her earnings to $171,292. Her last victory came over allowance foes at Keeneland Oct. 7. J.C. Davis Farm bred the winner, a $600,000 Barretts sale last March, in Kentucky.
The entry paid $2.40, $2.10, and $2.10 while Tulullah Lula, trained by Bob Baffert, returned $2.10 and $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $5.40.
Baffert said he thought Tulullah Lula tired when she couldn't get outside of Folklore.
"(Folklore) was short," he noted. "Prado rode the rail so tight my filly couldn't get out."
Lake Como finished fourth followed by My Little Monkey and Trick's Pic, who weakened late after a bobbling start.