Dothraki Queen fires in Pocahontas
Decked Out set a pedestrian pace up front through splits of :24.13, :49.71 and 1:15.30 as Dothraki Queen and 1-2 favorite Just Wicked bided their time in the back of the field. Just Wicked went wide around the turn but jockey Corey Lanerie kept Dothraki Queen down on the inside.
That almost proved disastrous as Dothraki Queen had to take up sharply entering the lane. Lanerie steadied her and once again maintained the rail path, just waiting for an opening. Once daylight appeared in midstretch, Dothraki Queen shot through and grabbed command.
The bay daughter of Pure Prize stopped the clock for 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:48.80 as the 7-1 third choice.
For her Pocahontas win, Dothraki Queen – who is named after the Game of Thrones character Daenerys Targaryen – not only earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) but also 10 points toward a spot in the starting gate for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Kenny McPeek trainee is now two-for-two after taking her debut by seven lengths over Ellis Park’s turf on July 12.
Bold Quality finished second, 2 1/4 lengths up on Dream Dance. However, she was disqualified and placed third for bumping that rival in the lane.
Bold Quality did, indeed, hit Dream Dance quite hard when abruptly angling out from behind a wall of horses. However, both fillies were momentarily knocked off stride and had plenty of time to recover. Bold Quality drew away from Dream Dance, who just couldn’t keep up.
This type of disqualification is questionable. Did Bold Quality bump Dream Dance? Absolutely. Did it affect the outcome of the race or any finishing positions? Nope, not at all.
KENNY MCPEEK, trainer of DOTHRAKI QUEEN (winner): “She’s a really brave filly. When you’re in the barn with her, she’s extremely intelligent; she’s a little bit mean which I like. She’s always done everything right. I wasn’t so sure she would take to the dirt the way she would the turf but we’re thrilled. Obviously I got my butt kicked in New York this summer. A lot of that is because I left all of my best young horses in Kentucky and I think Dale (Romans) did a lot of the same thing. Hopefully it pays off. On the turn, I said to the box, ‘She’s going to live and die by the rail here. If she gets through we’re good, but if not, we’re fifth.’”
On Corey Lanerie: “He’s a great rider. I know he had a rough summer like I did, but this is home for him. I’m glad he was aboard.”
What’s next?: “We’ll go the Alcibiades next. If she’s doing well, she’ll run. I needed a graded win I haven’t had one in a while. I’ve been kind of quiet in that department for some reason. It seems like all of our good horses are hurt, and we’ve been second and third in a lot of stakes It’s nice to have a nice drink of water there.”
COREY LANERIE, jockey of DOTHRAKI QUEEN (winner): “When I got through I thought we were going to win by five. She quickened that much and I was surprised. The two horse (Bold Quality) she was heads up with me turning for home and I just kind of took the hole from her and I didn’t expect her to be running at me towards the end, but she made it close. I thought they were going to get me for one minute. I don’t think my filly was going to let her by. She got to the front so quick and she’s a nice filly. With her having been on the grass this was my first time having ridden her on dirt, I didn’t know how she would take it in her face, but all the way down the backside I didn’t have much, but for a couple of times she had it and she pulled me forward.
KELLY BREEN, trainer of BOLD QUALITY (second and disqualified to third): “It was a big effort, but I’m really disappointed that she didn’t win. She ran strong, but the leaders were going very slow. That’s surprising because there were sprinters in there and they were going two turns for the first time, but there was just no pace. I really like this filly and I’m disappointed that she didn’t win here. I guess we’ll go on to the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies) with her. I just thought she could win this race.”
NEIL HOWARD, trainer of Dream Dance (third and promoted to second): “It was a good effort. Maybe that bump might have cost us second, but I thought it was a very good effort in a very competitive race.”
JOSE ORTIZ, jockey of JUST WICKED (fourth as the 2-5 favorite): “She broke good, but not the way we wanted. I was travelling comfortable on the whole backside, but at the half-mile pole I just had to go out because they were going so slow. I just wanted to let her drop her head and run. I thought I was on the best filly just I just went out there wide, but between the three-eighths pole and quarter-pole she flattened out.”
Dothraki Queen photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography