Normandy Farm's homebred Daddys Lil Darling asserted herself at the top of the Kentucky Downs' stretch and set a course record going 1 5/16 miles in the $200,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks Sept. 10 and broke an eight-race losing streak in the process.
Trained by Kenny McPeek, the Scat Daddy filly raced in top-level company in her last four starts. She finished second in the April 8 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) and the May 5 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), ran fourth fourth in the July 8 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T), and came in fifth in the July 23 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).
Under jockey Julien Leparoux, the graded stakes-winning filly came off the final turn full of run from midpack and easily cleared leader Summer Luck to pull away and win under a hand ride by 4 1/4 lengths.
"She did it on her own. I never really asked her for anything," Leparoux said. "She's a nice filly. She finished fourth in the Belmont Oaks on the grass, so she's a nice filly and today she did it very impressive."
Daddys Lil Darling bounced well out of the gate and was taken in hand from the start. She settled along the rail and later moved to the outside for a clear path, while Summer Luck set fractions of :25.50, :51.05, and 1:14.63 through the first six furlongs.
The final time and new course record for the 1 5/16 miles on firm turf was 2:10.97.
"This was the first time I rode her on the grass," Leparoux said. "She traveled very good, all the way on the bridle. When I got her outside, she just cruised to the leaders, did it very easy, and kept on going very nicely. She did it very impressive today."
The winner paid $4, $2.80, and $2.40 across the board. Summer Luck held for second to pay $3.80 and $3, and La Manta Gris returned $4.20 to show.
Daddys Lil Darling's last victory was just less than a year ago in the Pocahantas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. While the filly's only other turf effort was the Belmont Oaks, she made a trip overseas to compete in the Investec Oaks (G1) at Epsom, where she was a late scratch. She bolted before the start of that race when she was startled by lightning.
Bred in Kentucky, out of the grade 2-placed Houston mare Miss Hot Salsa, Daddys Lil Darling is a half sister to 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Mongolian Saturday.