Many buyers who inspected Dayatthespa during the 2011 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March 2-year-olds in training sale likely moved her to the bottom of their short lists after they watched her walk.
The chestnut daughter of City Zip , who is a leading contender in the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park, is offset in her knees and walks a bit wide. She worked well at OBS, going an eighth of a mile in :10 3/5 four days before the sale and glided over the track…but those knees and that walk.
“She is not perfect in front and what you saw walking at you was not a reflection of the filly’s ability,” said Florida pinhooker Niall Brennan, who bought Dayatthespa as a yearling for $50,000 out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred sale.
“City Zip is offset through his knees, but he was very sound,” Brennan added. “She was quite typical of the sire, and I just really liked her. She had presence and class and great balance in the way she moved.”
During the March sale, Dayatthespa was also still a bit immature so she just wasn’t getting the attention Brennan thought deserved. He decided to withdraw her from the sale.
“I think she had gotten overlooked,” Brennan said. “In hindsight if she was at the April sale, she would have stood out but she was under the radar screen. I felt she was a very nice filly. We are sellers, but we are not going to give horses away.”
Waiting at the wings, however, was bloodstock agent Pete Bradley, Bradley’s partner Steve Laymon, and trainer Chad Brown. All three were quite taken with how the young filly moved during the under tack show.
“She had a really good stride on the Safetrack at OBS, and I have a bit of a propensity for turf horses anyway,” said Bradley. “She was a lanky, pretty typical City Zip in the front and wasn’t the greatest walker. But she looked great on the track and they don’t have any walking races, so I told Chad we should take a chance on her.”
Bradley was interested in Dayatthespa for other reasons, too. She was New York-bred and he was putting together racing partnerships to take advantage of the growing New York program. The filly was bred by Castellare DiCracchiolo Stable, John Cracchiolo and Scott Goldsher. Bradley bought the filly privately from Brennan at OBS and formed a partnership with Laymon and a couple of other partners.
Dayatthespa broke her maiden at Saratoga Race Course in her first start, winning by four lengths at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. She rolled right into the grade III Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine where she finished second by 1 1/4 lengths to Northern Passion and beat Stephanie’s Kitten, who was third. Stephanie’s Kitten has also been pre-entered in the Filly & Mare Turf.
The filly’s performance in the Natalma caught the eye of owner Jerry Frankel, whom Bradley had done business with for several years. Frankel, who produces Broadway plays and musicals, bought 50% of Dayatthespa and then brought his brother Ronald into the partnership.
Dayatthespa has now won nine stakes, including two grade Is and a couple of grade IIIs. She is the only pre-entered Filly & Mare Turf contender coming into the race off back-to-back victories. She won the Yaddo Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 24 and followed that with a win in the First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 4.
This year will be Dayatthespa’s second trip to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. She competed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs, where she finished ninth.
Since then, the owners have been racing her mostly at a mile and 1 1/16 miles. They skipped last year’s Breeders’ Cup because they felt the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) probably suited her best, but they didn’t see an advantage in running against Wise Dan.
The owners and Brown feel they’ve seen the now 5-year-old finish strongly enough at two turns to try the 1 1/4-mile Filly & Mare Turf.
“We have cross-entered in the Mile, but Chad thinks her running style suits the Filly & Mare Turf better,” said Bradley.
Brennan said he is not surprised Dayatthespa has gone on to do so well. She has won 10 times in 17 starts and finished second four times. Her career earnings to date are nearly $1,189,000.
“The guys that got her deserved to get her. It worked out the way it was supposed to; she went to great owners and to the right trainer,” said Brennan. “We know many jewels come in different shapes and sizes.”
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