August 12, 2022

Daddy Is a Legend finds clear sailing in Lake George

Daddy is a Legend sails to victory in the Lake George Stakes (G3) under jockey Manny Franco on Saratoga's opening day, July 20, 2018 (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

Having turned in strong efforts in defeat in all three outings this season, Jim and Susan Hill’s Daddy Is a Legend deservedly earned her way back into the winner’s circle in Friday’s $150,000 Lake George (G3) at Saratoga. The 8-5 favorite muscled her way through on the inside, outkicked Altea, and drove two lengths clear.

Daddy Is a Legend, a well-named daughter of Scat Daddy, first rose to prominence last fall. Runner-up to future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Rushing Fall in a Belmont Park maiden, the George Weaver pupil dominated next time at Keeneland and impressed in her stakes debut in Del Mar’s Jimmy Durante (G3).

Although winless in the interim, she hadn’t had a favorable set-up until Friday.

Her rematch with Rushing Fall in the April 8 Appalachian (G2) was almost over at the start, when Daddy Is a Legend broke terribly. She recovered to make a bold move, but her early miscue cost her late and she compounded in fourth. In the Edgewood (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day, Daddy Is a Legend engaged in a protracted battle with Rushing Fall. But their duel only rendered both vulnerable to the late swoop of Toinette, who relegated Rushing Fall and Daddy Is a Legend to second and third, respectively.

A jockey switch to Manny Franco, and more patient handling, in the June 7 Wonder Again (G3) could have helped if not for a risibly slow pace. Daddy Is a Legend closed out wide for fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in a creditable performance. Since the Wonder Again serves as a prep for the July 7 Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1), she was expected to head there until a minor hiccup prompted Weaver to give her more time.

Things finally fell into place for her at the Spa, and Daddy Is a Legend seized the opportunity. Reserved in fifth by Franco, she raced a few lengths behind the pace set by Punked through fractions of :23.92 and :47.71. When Goodthingstaketime collared the early leader at the six-furlong mark in 1:10.92, Daddy Is a Legend had split foes to advance into third. Franco, apparently realizing that Punked was spent, maneuvered across her path so that Daddy Is a Legend cut the corner.

In contrast, Altea launched a sudden move out wide on the turn. The first-time blinkers sharpened up the deep closer perhaps even more than intended, and she may have struck the front too soon. Altea could not sustain her spurt beyond midstretch.

But Daddy Is a Legend was brimming with energy. Hitting top gear to Altea’s inside, she rolled past to complete 1 1/16 miles on the firm Mellon turf in 1:40.42 – not far off the stakes record of 1:40.11 held by Nani Rose (1999).

Altea was herself 2 1/2 lengths clear of third-placer Goodthingstaketime. Andina Del Sur ran evenly in fourth at every call, followed by Heavenly Love, Going Out, and the tailed-off Punked, who checked as a result of Daddy Is a Legend’s move but was already in retreat. The main-track-only Nootka Sound was scratched.

Daddy Is a Legend has earned $229,410 from her 8-3-1-1 line. A $140,000 Keeneland November weanling, the dark bay went to her current connections for $160,000 as a September yearling at the same venue.

Bred in Pennsylvania by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, Daddy Is a Legend is out of the unraced Randie’s Legend, a Benchmark half-sister to Grade 2 winner Frumious and Grade 3-placed multiple stakes scorer Eternal Rule. Daddy Is a Legend’s third dam is multiple Canadian champion Eternal Search.

Quotes from Saratoga

Winning rider Manny Franco: “It is important (to save ground) and today, we got a good draw, so the main thing was to break good and get my position and wait. It worked out good.

“The main thing, George [Weaver] told me to wait. He didn’t want me to move too early, so I was trying to follow somebody that was going to keep going and that’s what I did. I waited as long as I could and the inside opened so I just sent my filly and she was there for me.”

Winning trainer George Weaver: “More pace developed than I thought there was going to be, which sometimes happens when there’s no pace in the race. She was in a good spot, she got some cover and wasn’t too far off the pace and she was ready to pounce whenever he wanted her to.

“We wanted to run in the Belmont Oaks and she got a little bellyache getting close to it and it just wasn’t going to happen. This was a logical next spot to try. She looked great on paper going into the race. We felt good about the way she was training. I’m just glad she got a good trip, and it worked out for us.

“She’s run well every start this year. It’s just a really, really deep division and she’s one of the better ones in it. We’re hoping she can move forward and continue to do well the rest of the year.”