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Dayatthespa avenges last year’s loss with win in First Lady

By Marty McGee (DRF)

Dayatthespa now has raced four times over the Keeneland turf course, with her only loss coming last year in the Grade 1 First Lady when beaten a head by Better Lucky.

Given an opportunity to turn the tables, Dayatthespa did just that Saturday when getting a textbook stalking trip under John Velazquez in capturing the 17th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady. Better Lucky was second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Dayatthespa, while Filimbi, the 5-2 favorite in a field of nine fillies and mares, was another neck back in third.

Dayatthespa, a 5-year-old New York-bred mare, returned $9.60 as second choice in becoming racing’s latest millionaire with her 10th win from 17 career starts. Chad Brown trains her for the Bradley Thoroughbreds and partners.

Over a turf course rated good, Istanford, the only 3-year-old in the field, led through fractions of 23.65 seconds and 47.57, with Dayatthespa poised just behind and clear of the others.

“It was perfect,” said Velazquez. “I was able to drop over on the first turn and just kind of held it together to the quarter-pole. Then she was fresh.”

Leaving the quarter-pole, as Istanford faltered, Dayatthespa sped clear of the pack and never was seriously threatened.

“She was great,” said Velazquez. “At the sixteenth pole, she started looking around a little, so I hit her once, but we were OK.”

Dayatthespa, by City Zip, finished in 1:35.21, earning $240,000 to lift her bankroll to $1,188,892. In prior starts here, she won two turf stakes as a 3-year-old, ending with the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, and was nipped in the final jump last fall in the First Lady.

Brown, who was not on hand, said by text that Dayatthespa might make her next start in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

Better Lucky, the 5-1 third choice under Mike Smith, closed stoutly from seventh to get second in the final strides from Filimbi. The 5-year-old Godolphin mare was using the First Lady as a possible prep for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

After the top three, the complete order was Centre Court, Somali Lemonade, Discreet Marq, Kitten’s Point, Sassy Kitten, and Istanford.

The $2 exacta (7-5) paid $54.60, the $1 trifecta (7-5-1) returned $105.10, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-5-1-9) was worth $75.95.

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