01/06/2015 10:27AM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Dayatthespa

Barbara D. Livingston

The New York-bred mare Dayatthespa long ago outgrew her roots. There were clues from the beginning that it could happen.

A few months after Dayatthespa was purchased privately by the partnership of Jerry Frankel, Ron Frankel, Steve Laymon, and Peter Bradley as a 2-year-old in 2011, trainer Chad Brown called Bradley with an update on her status.

In Brown's opinion, Dayatthespa was showing signs of being more than a regional stakes winner.

“I think you bought a nice horse,” Brown told Bradley.

Brown’s impression was prophetic. Named for the world-famous Saratoga Race Course, Dayatthespa proved to be much more than a nice horse in 2014. She made only four starts and won three of them, including consecutive Grade 1 races at the end of the year that left her among the nominees for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding turf female and older female of 2014.

Dayatthespa proved impossible to catch in two Grade 1 races – the $400,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 4 and the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

The wins were a continuation of previous success. As a 3-year-old in 2012, Dayatthespa won five consecutive stakes in Florida, Kentucky, and New York, a streak that included the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

In 2013, Dayatthespa had a limited campaign, winning two New York-bred stakes at Belmont Park and Saratoga in a five-race campaign. She finished fourth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park in November 2013, emerging from the race with an issue that needed “a little time,” Brown said last summer.

Dayatthespa made her first start of 2014 in the restricted De La Rose Stakes over a mile on turf at Saratoga on Aug. 2, finishing second by 1 3/4 lengths to Filimbi. It was the only loss of the year for Dayatthespa.

In her second start, Dayatthespa led throughout the Yaddo Stakes for New York-breds over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Saratoga on Aug. 24, beating the favored Discreet Marq, another Grade 1 winner from 2013. After that, Dayatthespa ran only in Grade 1 races.

Dayatthespa was a 7-2 shot in the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 4 and had an ideal trip under jockey John Velazquez. Second for the first six furlongs, Dayatthespa kicked clear to lead by two lengths in the stretch. She won by 1 1/4 lengths over Better Lucky.

The trip foreshadowed the BC Filly and Mare Turf. Racing over 1 1/4 miles on turf for the first time, the longer race was not an issue. Jockey Javier Castellano set a moderate pace, including six furlongs in 1:13.02, and urged the mare clear in early stretch. Dayatthespa led by two lengths with a furlong to go and won by 1 1/4 lengths over the Brown-trained Stephanie’s Kitten.

“It was picture-perfect,” Bradley said in the post-race press conference. “She ran her race against an exceptional group of fillies, put them to sleep on the front end, and took it home.”

The win pushed Dayatthespa’s career mark to 11 wins in 18 starts, with earnings of $2,288,892. She earned $1,450,000 for her 2014 campaign. While Bradley and partners would have liked to see more action, there was no disputing the results.

“When  [Brown] told us not to run a couple of times, we grumbled, but we listened to him,” Bradley said. “When he told us she was ready, she didn’t disappoint us.”

Two days after her win in the Breeders’ Cup, Dayatthespa was sold for $2.1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale to Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stable. She said the mare was likely to be retired and bred.