10/05/2016 12:20PM

Daddys Lil Darling stays active in Alcibiades

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Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
Daddys Lil Darling will have to work out a good trip from post 14 in the Alcibiades.

Daddys Lil Darling earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with a victory in the Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs on Sept. 17, providing trainer Kenny McPeek with the option of standing pat.

Instead, McPeek is raising the stakes, bringing Daddys Lil Darling back Friday on opening day at Keeneland in the $500,000 Alcibiades, believing she has done well enough since her last start to win the Grade 1 race.

Although there are no divisional leaders in the field, the task of winning the Alcibiades seems challenging. The 1 1/16-mile race is deeper than the Pocahontas, and Daddys Lil Darling was unlucky at the draw, landing post 14, which could lead to a wide trip.

“The post doesn’t thrill me, but you can’t control it,” McPeek said.

Diadura, a winner in her two starts, both on Arlington’s Polytrack, including the Arlington-Washington Lassie, is the co-favorite on the morning line at 5-1.

The Alcibiades marks Diadura’s first start on dirt, though a bullet workout in 1:00.60 at Keeneland on Sept. 30 left trainer Mike Stidham encouraged about her ability to handle dirt.

The race is a puzzler for handicappers, with the makeup of the 14-horse field including first-time routers, horses making surface switches to dirt from turf or Polytrack, and still others coming off a race in the mud in the Pocahontas.

A fast track is expected Friday.

Alcibiades, Race 9

Key Contenders

Fun, by Harlan’s Holiday

Last 3 Beyers: 58-65-54

◗ Is the only entrant with Grade 1 experience on dirt, having run fourth in the Spinaway at Saratoga on Sept. 3. That followed a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Schuylerville and a first-out maiden victory at Churchill Downs.

Dream Dancing, by Tapit

Last 3 Beyers: 59-74-71

◗ Flattened out to be fourth in her first dirt start when racing in the mud in the Pocahontas after twice performing well in turf routes at Saratoga, with a second and a first in a pair of maiden races there.

Benner Island, by Speightstown

Last 2 Beyers: 69-60

◗ Finished second in the Sept. 10 Arlington-Washington Lassie, an effort that pleased trainer Brad Cox, who said her rider that day, Julio Felix, believed she did not care for the Polytrack surface at Arlington.

Diadura, by Hard Spun

Last 2 Beyers: 81-69

◗ Her sire, Hard Spun, went unbeaten in two starts on Polytrack but was just as skillful on dirt as one of the top 3-year-olds of 2007. Her dam, Day Time Promise, raced exclusively on dirt, winning a stakes and twice becoming graded stakes-placed.

Daddys Lil Darling, by Scat Daddy

Last 3 Beyers: 68-69-56

◗ McPeek calls her “a lot more talented” than Dothraki Queen, who won the Pocahontas last year before running second in the Alcibiades and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.