Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has left his mark on many stakes races at Churchill Downs, but none have felt his impact more than the $100,000-added Debutante Stakes (gr. III).
Lukas has won the race a record six times and will be looking to improve on that number -- and win the race for a third consecutive year --when he saddles Robert and Beverly Lewis' Dance Daily in Saturday's 105th running of the 5 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.
Out of the first crop of Five Star Day
, Dance Daily is coming off a fifth-place finish against males in the $100,000-added Three Chimneys Juvenile on Kentucky Derby Day. She dueled for the lead with the winner Half Ours before faltering. But prior to that she dazzled fans at Keeneland when she overcame several obstacles to win her 4 1/2-furlong racing debut on April 20.
Dance Daily bobbled at the start in her debut and immediately found herself behind horses. But despite her early problems, she managed to extricate herself from those traffic woes and won by a comfortable two lengths.
"I was impressed with that one," said Lukas. "She's a very talented filly and that worked out very well. I probably brought her back against the colts a little bit quick, but I liked the one at Keeneland."
Dance Daily has trained brilliantly for the Debutante -- including a four-furlong work in a swift :46.60 last Saturday that was the fastest of 49 moves at the distance -- and Lukas expects both a strong run in the grades event and a promising future.
"I didn't want her to do that -- I wanted her to go in :48 or :49," said Lukas. "I hope it wasn't too quick. But the fact that she does that in the mornings makes me think that she will probably put it together in the afternoon."
Dance Daily was bred by J.C. Davis Farm near Henderson, Ky. A Debutante win would put her in a strong group of Lukas-trained winners: Burnished Bright (1986), Icy Folly (1989), Golden Attraction (1995), Love Lock (1997), Be Gentle (2003), and Classic Elegance (2004).
Lukas knows Dance Daily is fast and he believes she has the potential to be a very good filly.
"I think she's going to do really well," said Lukas. "I don't know about two-turns later on in her 3-year-old year - that remains to be seen.
"She's by a sire that gets fast horses and she's certainly fast. But I think at this point in her career going into mid-July, I think it's going to look pretty good."
Dance Daily is a 6-1 shot on the Debutante's morning line. Her challengers in the field of nine fillies will be Joint Effort, winner by 5 1/2 lengths in a maiden race at Churchill on July 7; Effectual, who captured her career debut by 3 1/4 lengths at Keeneland in April; She Says It Best, who scored by 3 3/4 lengths at Churchill on June 5; and Runaway Cat, an eight-length winner at Arlington Park on June 12.
Swept Gold comes into the Debutante off a 2 1/2-length maiden win at Churchill on June 19. More Than Pretty took a Churchill maiden race by a neck on May 22. Enth, a daughter of Seeking the Gold
, was a three-length winner, in her career debut, over Joint Effort on June 12 at Churchill. And We Will Dance notched a two-length victory at Churchill on June 15.
Joint Effort, at 5-2, is the narrow morning line favorite over Enth, who is at 3-1. Effectual is at 7-2.
Debutante Stakes (gr. III)
Saturday, July 9
Estimated Post Time: 6:01 p.m. (EST)
Age Restriction: Two Year Old
Distance: Five And One Half Furlongs
Post Horse Name Weight Jockey Name
1 Joint Effort 117 Mark Guidry
2 Effectual 117 Robby Albarado
3 She Says It Best 117 Eddie M. Martin, Jr.
4 Runaway Cat 117 Jesus Lopez Castanon
5 Swept Gold 117 Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
6 Dance Daily 117 Corey J. Lanerie
7 More Than Pretty 117 John McKee
8 Enth (KY) 117 Pat Day
9 We Will Dance (KY) 115 Orlando Mojica