McGaughey Daydreams of First Spinaway Victory

Edited from track notes
Around this time each year, it seems that trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey III has a 2-year-old filly that makes a name for herself: Personal Ensign (1986), Easy Now (1991), Educated Risk (1992), Heavenly Prized (1993), My Flag (1995), and Storm Flag Flying (2002) are but a few.

With any of these female horses, it would seem that somewhere along the way that McGaughey should have won the Spinaway--the marquee race for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga Race Course. But that has not been the case.

McGaughey will again seek his first Spinaway win as he sends out Ogden Mills Phipps' Daydreaming against six others in Friday's 112th edition of the grade I, $200,000 event for juvenile fillies at seven furlongs.

Daydreaming comes into the Spinaway off her maiden race at Saratoga during the first week of the meet. The A.P. Indy filly did not look like an 18-1 longshot as she drew off to win by more than seven lengths.

"I wasn't surprised with the way she ran," McGaughey said. "I knew she would coming from the back (of the pack). I was a little concerned going into that race because she hadn't worked for about two weeks due to the weather. But she was good before she came up here. If I was surprised about anything, it was her being 18-1."

Daydreaming is a full sister to multiple stakes winner Accelerator, a horse that McGaughey also trained for Phipps. Unlike his sister, Accelerator needed two races while stretching out in distance and a sloppy track to graduate from the maiden ranks. Accelerator later became a consistent off-track runner.

Accelerator, who usually spotted his opponents about 10 lengths in the early stages, won his first stakes in the grade III Pilgrim--a race that was originally scheduled for the turf course and was forced to the main sloppy track--before finishing third in the grade II Remsen to close out his 2-year-old season.

Once Accelerator got to Florida, the colt could finish no better than third in all three of his races at 1 1/16 miles. As soon as he got back to New York, Accelerator put in one of the best races of his career with a second-place finish to Captain Bodgit in the Wood Memorial over a sloppy track at Aqueduct as a 3-year-old. In the following year, Accelerator was third in the grade I Metropolitan Mile Handicap, grade II Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap and the grade III Stuyvesant Handicap.

"They both have the same running style," McGaughey said. "He came from way back and often finished well. It's the same thing for her. I think she can go far. Otherwise, there's not really much resemblance between either horse."

Daydreaming's first attempt in stakes company will not be an easy one. She faces a field that includes proven stakes winners and strong finishers.

"This is obviously going to be a big test for her," McGaughey said. "We'll have to wait and see if she is up to it. It's something that no one can answer. If she had an allowance race leading up to the Spinaway, perhaps there could more a more definite answer; although, she did run well in her maiden race and I expect her to run well here."

Daydreaming's main foe is expected to be Ashado, who is unbeaten in two starts, including her most recent in the grade II Schuylerville here at Saratoga on opening day.

While Ashado is a proven stakes winner, she will also be tested for leading trainer Todd Pletcher. She has yet to run over a fast track and is going to run another furlong off her last race. But that is not a concern for Pletcher.

"She really hasn't been a surprise for us," Pletcher said. "When we got her earlier this year, she was a big, strong filly who had been training well. She's got tactical speed and she placed anywhere in the race. Hopefully, she will continue to progress. From a pedigree standpoint, she should have no problem stretching out."

Following her Schuylerville victory, Ashado had been working with Strong Hope, who won the grade II Jim Dandy before finishing third in the grade I Travers. In one of her most recent works, Ashado finished a fifth of a second behind Strong Hope.

"She handled that well," Pletcher said. "She can be a bit lazy. So, I did that for her benefit. I let Strong Hope go out there with Ashado just behind him to keep her interest level up."

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas is looking to increase his chances in winning the Spinaway for the seventh time by entering two fillies--Robert and Beverly Lewis' Unbridled Beauty and Thomas Van Meter II's Be Gentle.

Lukas won his first Spinaway in 1984 with Tiltalating for the late Eugene V. Klein. Lukas and Klein came back in the following year with Family Style, then in 1987 with Over All. Lukas also won back-to-back Spinaways for William T. Young, the owner of Overbrook Farm, with Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly champion Flanders (1994) and Golden Attraction (1995).

Unbridled Beauty, who was purchased for $750,000 at the Saratoga Fasig-Tipton yearling sales last year, is coming off two second-place finishes in stakes races. In her most recent race, the Adirondack (gr. II) just over two weeks ago, Unbridled Beauty was the early pacesetter before being caught by Whoopi Cat late in the stretch run.

After winning back-to-back races at Churchill Downs, including the Debutante (gr. III), Be Gentle struggled over the sloppy track while being steadied going down the backstretch in the Schuylerville.

America America adds more intrigue into the race after spending most of her summer overseas for French native Franck Mourier, who is based at Florida. The Cameron Express-owned filly was the first American-trained runner in the history of Royal Ascot in England to compete in the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-III) on the grass.

After finishing eighth in a Queen Mary field of 14, America America has slowly progressed to the point where she has finished second in her last three starts, including her most recent in the Stonehenge at about a mile against the colts.

Before heading to England, America America won her debut and finished second in the Mockingbird Stakes--both races at three furlongs at Gulfstream Park in April. Mourier, 34, came to the United States five years ago after spending a year at Chantilly.

The field for Friday's grade I Spinaway:
PP, Horse, Trainer, Jockey
1. America America, Franck Mourier, Richard Migliore
2. Dixie Waltz, Nick Zito, Pat Day
3. Ashado, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado
4. Be Gentle, D. Wayne Lukas, Cornelio Velasquez
5. Charming Humor, Leroy Jolley, Mark Guidry
6. Daydreaming, Shug McGaughey, John Velazquez
7. Stoic, Richard Dutrow Jr., Mike Luzzi
8. Unbridled Beauty, D. Wayne Lukas, Jerry Bailey
All starters will carry 121 pounds
America America will race with blinkers.