Daddys Lil Darling punches Breeders' Cup ticket in Pocahontas
Running over a muddy strip under dreary skies, the Scat Daddy filly was kept mostly in the clear on the outside by jockey Corey Lanerie as Bling On the Music set a pace of :23.39, :47.50, and 1:13.75. Moving up to challenge entering the stretch, Daddys Lil Darling surged past that foe in mid-stretch and held off a late rally from Ever So Clever to win by a half-length in a time of 1:47.19 for 1 1/16 miles. Bling On the Music weakened to third, while favorite Dream Dancing ran fourth in the field of nine.
Sent away at 7-2, Daddys Lil Darling paid $9.80 for owner-breeder Normandy Farm and trainer Kenny McPeek, who also won the 2015 Pocahontas with Dothraki Queen.
"She's done everything right from the beginning," McPeek said. "We felt this was an ideal spot."
Describing her as a "lean filly" who might not want to have races too close together, McPeek was initially unsure whether Daddys Lil Darling would contest next month's Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland or simply train up to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.
Daddys Lil Darling's form entering the Pocahontas paralleled that of the colt Not This Time, who impressively captured the Iroquois (G3) earlier on Saturday's Churchill card. Like that colt, she was unplaced in her debut at Churchill following a slow start but rebounded to break her maiden during the Ellis Park meet by open lengths going a mile. She's now earned $144,165.
Reared by the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Miss Hot Salsa, a daughter of Houston, Daddys Lil Darling is a half-sister to reigning Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Mongolian Saturday and multiple stakes winner Victoryasecret.