Normandy Farm’s homebred Daddys Lil Darling, who held her own against the best 2-year-old fillies last fall, tackles turf for the first time in her 2017 debut in the March 11 Florida Oaks (G3T) at Tampa Bay Downs. The daughter of the late Scat Daddy faces a tested bunch that includes the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers of the Feb. 4 Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park.
Daddys Lil Darling, trained by Kentucky-based horseman Ken McPeek, certainly has “turf” in her pedigree as the half sister to 2015 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Mongolian Saturday, and turf stakes winner Victoryatsea. The trio’s dam, the Houston mare Miss Hot Salsa, was a stakes winner and grade 2 performer on grass in the late 1990s.
In a four-race span to close out her juvenile campaign Daddys Lil Darling won Churchill Downs’ Pocahontas Stakes (G2), was second to Dancing Rags in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, fourth behind champion Champagne Room in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and second to the good Farrell in Churchill’s Golden Rod Stakes (G2). All four events were at 1 1/16 miles, the distance of the Florida Oaks.
A resurgent Robby Albarado takes the mount for the first time on the bay filly who has a steady work tab from Payson Park under her belt.
Glen Hill’s homebred War Front filly Compelled closed out 2016 with a score over Florida-breds in the Juvenile Filly Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park West. Off the layoff she came from mid pack to just miss catching Rymska in the Sweetest Chant.
New York-bred Fifty Five was nosed out for second by Compelled in the Sweetest Chant. Empire Equines daughter of Get Stormy has back wins at Aqueduct Racetrack and Gulfstream to her four-race résumé with all four coming on turf. She also topped Tamit on New Year’s Day in an allowance optional claiming race in South Florida.
Robert Masterson’s Tamit, a $222,180 purchase in Ireland as a yearling, is trained by Mark Casse, as is La Coronel.
By Colonel John, La Coronel was a 4 1/2-length winner of Keeneland’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G3T) last October for John Oxley, then ran a closing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T).
Oxley and Casse teamed to win the Florida Oaks in 2012 with Dixie Strike.
Local Dynatail, Ballybrit Stable’s daughter of Hightail , is a two-time winner over the Tampa Bay turf course and was adept enough on synthetic to take the OBS Championship (filly division) last out at the Ocala Training Center. The $89,390 earner was a $5,000 purchase by Ballybrit last June at the OBS June sale.