Dayatthespa is a New York-bred who is so good that she rarely faces anything other than open company.
Circumstances put her in against state-breds today, but trainer Chad Brown of Mechanicville said he believes skipping the Grade I Diana two weeks ago was the right move.
Not coincidentally, Dayatthespa, a three-time graded stakes winner last year who broke her maiden at Saratoga Race Course in 2011, is the 2-5 morning-line favorite for the $150,000 Yaddo at a mile and a sixteenth on the inner turf course.
“The time was helpful,” Brown said. “She’s got her energy level back, and she’s really doing well. We’re looking forward to running her again and getting her back on track.”
Dayatthespa had a spectacular run of five straight stakes victories last year, including the Grade I QEII Cup at Keeneland and two Grade III’s — the Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park and the Appalachian at Keeneland.
She also won the Riskaverse at Saratoga.
The daughter of City Zip opened the 2013 season with a win in the listed U Go West Girl at Belmont Park, but lost by three-quarters of a length to Laughing in the Grade III Eatontown at Monmouth Park.
“We’re expecting her to get back and running in graded stakes,” Brown said. “Right now, this looks like the right race for her. Being a New York-bred, it gave us an extra couple of races on the calendar, and if we need them, we can use them. I like the timing of the race, I like the distance of the race, I like that I can get Javier [Castellano] back on her, and she likes Saratoga.”
The top threat to Dayatthespa is also trained by Brown — Shakeira, who hit the board in all eight starts last year, with four victories.
She opened 2013 with two straight wins before getting a rough trip and finishing sixth behind Hessonite in the On The Bus at Saratoga on opening day.
The other stakes on the card is the $100,000 Saratoga Sunrise for New York-breds 3 and up at a mile and an eighth on the main track.
Awesome Vision is the 2-1 favorite, despite having just been beaten by a head by Bigger Is Bettor in the Evan Shipman on July 22.
Bigger Is Bettor (3-1) has hit the board in seven straight going back to December, with the only wins coming in his last two.
He’ll be carrying topweight of 123 pounds, three more than Awesome Vision.
GOLDEN SOUL ON COURSE
Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 on the Oklahoma training track on Thursday, and is on track to run in the Travers next Saturday.
Trainer Dallas Stewart said he and owner Charles Fipke wanted to make sure Golden Soul was a happy horse before considering the Travers, but he has given
every indication that he’s ready after finishing last of seven in the Haskell Invitational.
His blood work came back good, and he hasn’t lost his appetite.
“I know he’s good enough to win it if we have him ready,” Stewart said. “You can’t go in there half trained up. If he goes out there and goes in 1:03, you’re going to wonder. If he works in a minute and he doesn’t eat up for three or four days, and he’s not on the bit galloping, and he’s not looking right, you’ve got some problems.”
Picking up the pace
After going winless through the first 16 days of the meet, the summer is starting to heat up for trainer Jena Antonucci.
Antonucci won with two of her three starters on Wednesday and was second with the other, continuing the momentum that began on Aug. 7, when Wisdom of Oz supplied her first career Saratoga victory.
In her first full year on the NYRA circuit and second summer in Saratoga, Antonucci entered Thursday with three wins and a second in nine starts following an 0-for-20 start.
“It’s very special,” Antonucci said Thursday. “The other day, when we got our first win, it was very special in a different way. This meet is probably the nicest meet in the world, and everybody’s bringing their ‘A’ game. Everybody has been busting their butt to get this done. We’ve been knocking on the door, so it was like, ‘Come on guys, get over the hump.’ It’s phenomenal to have the door open.”
Both of Antonucci’s wins on Wednesday came with horses that were entered for the main track only and got to run when the races where moved off the turf. Howaboutwe, who is co-owned by the trainer, took the second race, and Currency Union was a rallying winner of the seventh.
High Inflation, another main track only entrant, was in striking position in Wednesday’s finale, but lost ground in the stretch, only to regroup and get up for second.
“Howaboutwe is a homebred; he grew up in our backyard in Florida,” Antonucci said. “My grandmother and family were here [Wednesday], so it was cool for them to be here for such a great day. He’s obviously near and dear to us, having watched him grow up and get it done, especially second time out.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Barnstorming came from off the pace to win the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes steeplechase.
That gave Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard his third winner of the meet. He has one at least one race at Saratoga for 45 straight years. . . .
Darren Nagle had a rough day, getting thrown from his mounts in two straight steeplechases on the card.
He came off Total Command in the first, then got on Powerofone in the second, only to get tossed again. . . .
Two colts who finished behind Saratoga Special winner Corfu in his July 25 maiden win — Aarons Orient and Pure Sensation — finished 1-2 in the third race. . . .
NYRA raised over $100,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) during Fabulous Fillies Day on Wednesday.