Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Dacita hasn’t had the best of set-ups in her past three, but finally got a charmed run in Saturday’s $600,000 Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington Park. Collaring 2-1 favorite Dona Bruja while getting the jump on her troubled stablemate Grand Jete, Dacita gave trainer Chad Brown his third straight (and record fourth overall) victory in the Arlington Million’s (G1) sister race.
With the Beverly D. being a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), Dacita is now setting her sights on the championship event, held over nine furlongs this year at Del Mar. Her connections celebrated another “Win & You’re In” one race later in the Million itself, where Beach Patrol, co-owned in part by Sheep Pond and trained by Brown, booked his passage to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Although Brown’s day at Arlington would have been perfect if Grand Jete had extricated herself from a pocket earlier, she still got up to force a dead-heat for second with Dona Bruja. Thus there was an all-Brown exacta, along with an all-South American exacta of Dacita, a Chilean champion, over Argentine champion Dona Bruja.
Dacita’s pitch-perfect trip came courtesy of Irad Ortiz Jr., who saved ground from her rail post, actually covered up behind Grand Jete for a while, before angling out into the clear later down the backstretch. From that point on, she was following Dona Bruja’s every move.
The pace was slower than might have been forecast, as Zipessa got away with fractions of :23.84 and :49.34 on the firm course. Aidan O’Brien’s shipper Rain Goddess tracked until backpedaling, but Hawksmoor engaged the leader at the six-furlong split in 1:14.81 and grabbed a short lead turning into the stretch.
Dona Bruja was traveling ominously well as she steadily crept into contention, and Dacita kept close tabs on the favorite as she improved as well. The Argentine played her hand first, only to have Dacita pounce on her in short order.
Meanwhile, backers of Grand Jete were suffering as she was trapped on the fence, full of run, with nowhere to go. Finally breaking free, the 3-1 second choice finished well, but it was too late.
Dacita, who had a half-length to spare over Grand Jete and Dona Bruja, negotiated 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.49. The 6-1 chance paid $15.80 to win.
Brown’s fourth Beverly D. trophy broke his tie with trainer Christophe Clement in the record book. His first coming with Stacelita in 2011, Brown had won the past two with Watsdachances (via the disqualification of Secret Gesture in 2015) and Sea Calisi.
As if that weren’t enough, Brown was also responsible for three-fourths of the superfecta. His third runner, Rainha Da Bateria, flashed home from last, way out wide on the course, to take fourth.
Kitten’s Roar checked in fifth. German raider Sarandia, expected to be forwardly placed early, found herself farther back after a slow start and did well enough for sixth. Hawksmoor retreated to seventh. Next came Rain Goddess, who hit the gate; Zipessa; and Prado’s Sweet Ride.
Dacita, a daughter of the gone-too-soon Scat Daddy, now sports a mark of 19-10-4-1, $1,398,369. A dual classic winner with three Group 1 titles in her homeland, she made a splash in her U.S. debut by beating Tepin in the 2015 Ballston Spa (G2). Her next triumph came at the expense of stablemate Sea Calisi in last summer’s New York (G2), and she made it two in a row with a thrilling Diana (G1) back at Saratoga. A rain-affected course at Woodbine, and top weight, compromised her chances in the Canadian (G2), but Dacita missed by only a nose to Rainha Da Bateria.
Yielding conditions likewise undercut her 2017 reappearance in the May 13 Beaugay (G3), and again, she fought hard to come up only a head short of Hawksmoor. While Dacita got the right turf conditions as the defending champion in the June 9 New York, the race shape didn’t pan out. Hawksmoor got loose on the lead, Dacita was last – too far behind slow fractions – and her rally couldn’t carry her any closer than sixth. Her positioning through the Beverly D., despite the tempo, was much better.
Dacita’s been unlucky regarding the Breeders’ Cup. In 2015, she caught a rain-sodden Keeneland and wound up ninth. Last year, Santa Anita would have been tailor-made for her, but she was unfortunately sidelined.
Perhaps her third aim at the Breeders’ Cup will hit the target.
Quotes from Arlington
Sol Kumin of Sheep Pond Partners, co-owner of Dacita: “We were waiting for her to be right and praying for some firm ground and we got it today and got super lucky. This filly is something special, the way she finished we knew she had it in her. Thanks to Mr. Brown. We’ll have to regroup and talk to Chad with the Breeder’s Cup being the goal.”
Winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr.: “First I want to thank the owner for giving me the opportunity. I got a perfect trip, I got the one hole and broke out of there and got close I didn’t want to be too far. I saved all the ground and she was there for me.”
Jockey Declan Cannon on favorite Dona Bruja, the dead-heat second: “She didn’t start as good as she normally does, she dragged me around for six furlongs and did a little more than she normally does. In the stretch she gave me a little kick, but it wasn’t what she normally can do but I think she tired herself out fighting me.”
Joel Rosario, who guided Grand Jete to an unlucky tie for second: “I was trying to save ground. Turning for home I had to wait a little bit longer than I wanted but she ran good.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz on fourth-placer Rainha Da Bateria: “She broke good and we wound up in the back. I couldn’t go anywhere and I didn’t want to be too wide. I had to take a pretty good hold of her by the turn and a horse was coming out on me.
Jockey Florent Geroux on Kitten’s Roar (fifth): “It was a pretty good trip just stalking the leaders. I tried to follow the winner when she made her move on the outside and just couldn’t keep up.”
Jockey Andrasch Starke on Sarandia (sixth): “She didn’t jump very fast, she needed a furlong to just find herself and then I was second-last until the straight. She finished not bad.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux on Hawksmoor (seventh): “She broke slow and stumbled a little bit, after that she was just doing a little bit too much early on.”
No quotes for Rain Goddess (eighth)
Frankie Dettori on Zipessa’s tiring to ninth: “I made the lead, but I think 10 furlongs is too long for her, she should go back to nine. She’s very honest.”
Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. on trailing Prado’s Sweet Ride: “Dream trip, but when they pushed to the metal they just left her there. I’m proud of her, beautiful trip – just not good enough.”