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Dayatthespa hopes turf stays firm for Eatontown

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Dayatthespa, winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup last year, continues her comeback with a return to graded stakes on Saturday in the $100,000 Eatontown Handicap for fillies and mares on turf at Monmouth Park.

A 4-year-old chestnut trained by Chad Brown, Dayatthespa tops a field of nine going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3 event.

The solid lineup includes a trio of Grade 3 winners over the course last season: Ruthenia from the Violet, Laughing from the Matchmaker, and defending Eatontown champion Silver Screamer.

It has been a difficult road back for Dayatthespa following a brilliant season in which she captured five straight stakes, three of them graded.

It almost ended in disaster in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Betfair Hollywood Park. Dayatthespa apparently jumped a shadow and hit the rail, suffering a tendon injury that required significant stitching.

Brown was not sure when, or if, she would resume racing. Dayatthespa returned in early May with a blowout win in a New York-bred stakes at Belmont Park.

“I was very pleased with it,” Brown said. “She ran great and she seems to be rounding right back into form. She had a scary moment in the Matriarch. There was concern about her future at one point over the winter but she’s a good horse, and she overcame it. I really like what I’m seeing.”

Brown had targeted the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard as her next assignment, but heavy rain in the New York area rendered the course softer than Brown would prefer, resulting in a scratch.

The Eatontown became the next graded target. Unfortunately, rain could be an issue here as well. It has been a wet spring/early summer on the Jersey Shore and the forecast calls for more rain through the weekend.

Brown, like every other trainer with an Eatontown entrant, will closely monitor the weather and the course conditions.

“She clearly doesn’t like soft turf,” Brown said. “If it rained a lot and the turf was soft, I’d consider scratching. Anything good-to-firm, I’d run. She’s training too well to run over ground she doesn’t like.”

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