09/17/2016 6:58PM

Lanerie, McPeek strike again in Pocahontas with Daddys Lil Darling

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Daddys Lil Darling, ridden by Corey Lanerie for trainer Ken McPeek, takes the Grade 2 Pocahontas.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Corey Lanerie and Ken McPeek wouldn’t mind doing this every September at Churchill Downs. The jockey-trainer team won the Pocahontas Stakes for the second straight year, this time with Daddys Lil Darling, whose sustained stretch run was enough to hold off Ever So Clever in the Grade 2, $200,000 race.

With her victory for owner-breeder Normandy Farm, Daddys Lil Darling earned the first 10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks next spring as well as a Win and You’re In berth toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.

“This filly has done everything right from the beginning,” said McPeek, who gave Lanerie a leg up last year on Pocahontas winner Dothraki Queen.

A quick pace unfolded in this 48th running of the 1 1/16-mile Pocahontas, with Jet Away Sue and Bling On the Music winging out early in spread-eagling the field. The fillies began to bunch together on the final turn, with Daddys Lil Darling getting first run on the other back runners.

Down the stretch, as Bling On the Music began to tire and a rally from Dream Dancing began to fizzle, Daddys Lil Darling persisted to prevail by a half-length over a late-running Ever So Clever.

Daddys Lil Darling, a Kentucky-bred by Scat Daddy, returned $9.80 after finishing in 1:47.19 over a muddy track. She was coming off an eight-length maiden victory at Ellis Park on July 29.

“We could run back in the Alcibiades, but that might be coming back a little quick,” said McPeek, referring to the Oct. 7 opening-day feature at Keeneland. “The filly’s a bit lean and isn’t going to take lot of races close together, so maybe we’ll get to California early and make sure she’s plenty fresh.”

Steve Asmussen, trainer of Ever So Clever, was pleased with how much ground the Medaglia d’Oro filly made up from last in the field of nine.

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“She’s a good filly, a quality filly,” he said.

For Lanerie, the leading jockey at 11 of the last 12 Churchill meets, the Pocahontas snapped a rare winless streak of 34 races dating to Sept. 10 at Kentucky Downs.

The $2 exacta (9-8) paid $52.40, the $1 trifecta (9-8-1) returned $186.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (9-8-1-2) was worth $43.35.

The Pocahontas was the fourth and last stakes race run on an eventful 11-race Saturday at Churchill.