Dayatthespa goes gate to wire in Appalachian Stakes

Dayatthespa, with Javier Castellano up, cruised to a gate-to-wire win in the Appalachian Stakes, holding off the late-running Somali Lemonade.
Dayatthespa, with Javier Castellano up, cruised to a gate-to-wire win in the Appalachian Stakes, holding off the late-running Somali Lemonade.

Even though it can be stressful, trainer Chad Brown doesn't necessarily want his charge Dayatthespa to be anything less than her high-strung self — especially if she keeps winning.

She may not be the picture of Zen in her everyday life, but in Thursday's Grade III, $100,000 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, Dayatthespa looked serene as she coasted to a 23/4-length, gate-to-wire triumph in the 1-mile turf test.

Though the 3-year-old daughter of City Zip can put Brown on edge with her nervous energy, Dayatthespa's mental quirks rarely get in the way of her afternoon job. The chestnut filly has won four of six lifetime starts with her lone off-the-board effort a ninth-place run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

"She had me a little worried pre-race because she's a bit of a fractious horse, a little high strung, but that's also part of what makes her good," Brown said. "She's been an excellent filly from the day she walked in the barn, and the first time we breezed her she showed a lot.

"To me, she's really never run a bad race. The soft turf on Breeders' Cup day is the only real excuse but when she gets firm ground, she loves it."

In her seasonal debut, Dayatthespa won by a neck in the Grade III Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 11. When she got away Thursday with an easy half mile in :48.50 under jockey Javier Castellano, it was clear the filly had her second straight graded-stakes triumph in her sights.

"She can go :21 (for a quarter mile) real easy, but she relaxed today," Castellano said. "She was more kind. She was a little on her toes, but she's always that way. She responded so well."

Dayatthespa, the 6-5 favorite, was clear by 41/2 lengths as she settled in for the stretch drive. The late-running Somali Lemonade — winner of the Grade III Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland in October — did all she could to close the gap, but she could do no better than second in her first start since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

"I thought she ran a nice race for her first start (since November)," said Michael Matz, trainer of Somali Lemonade. "This was a situation that we thought could be possible where one horse gets on the lead by itself and the way the ground is, the leaders are not coming back."

Dayatthespa hit the wire in 1:36.08 over a course rated firm. Regalo Mia, who was second in the Herecomesthebride, held on for third in the nine-horse lineup.

Dayatthespa's stout run was marred when Marc Hais-field's filly Andrew's Girl — who was unbeaten in two career starts — broke down in upper stretch and was subsequently euthanized with a multiple fracture of her left knee.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader