April 12, 2021

Daddys Lil Darling lives up to favoritism in Modesty ‘Cap

Daddys Lil Darling scores in the Modesty Handicap (G3) under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. at Arlington Park on Saturday, July 7, 2018 (c) Arlington Park/Coady Photography

DADDYS LIL DARLING, Prado’s Sweet Ride and Hallie Belle all received automatic entries, with starting fees waived, to the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) on August 11 at Arlington Park after finishing in that order in Saturday’s $100,000 Modesty Handicap (G3) over the track.

Daddys Lil Darling was clearly the best, stalking the early pace of :22.71 and :47.06 set by Go Baby Run and moving up to take over when Sully’s Dream went wrong after sticking her head in front past six furlongs in 1:11.14. As that filly was pulled up, Daddys Lil Darling struck on for home, pulling clear in the lane by four lengths before being geared down by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. for the 2 1/4-length victory.

The Normandy Farm homebred paid $5.80 as the 9-5 favorite for finishing 1 3/16 miles over Arlington’s firm turf in 1:53.80. Prado’s Sweet Ride rallied from last to take second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Hallie Belle on the wire. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Con Te Partiro, who had a neck to spare over Oh So Terrible. Completing the order of finish were Princess La Quinta, Celestial Insight, Church Social, Majestic Angel, Daring Duchess and Go Baby Run.

Sully’s Dream was vanned off the course and, upon examination, it was determined had suffered a career-ending injury.

Daddys Lil Darling boosted her career earnings to $1,276,205 and now shows a 19-5-6-2 lifetime record. Accomplished on both turf and dirt, she boasts wins in last year’s American Oaks (G1) and Dueling Grounds Oaks as well as the 2016 Pocahontas Stakes (G2). The Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Scat Daddy ran second in four Grade 1 contests, including last season’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1).

The Kentucky-bred four-year-old is out of the Grade 2-placed stakes-winning Houston mare Miss Hot Salsa, making her a half-sister to the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) upsetter Mongolian Saturday and dual stakes vixen Victoryasecret.

MODESTY HANDICAP QUOTES

Kenny McPeek, trainer Daddys Lil Darling, winner

“I didn’t give (jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.) any instructions. From the 13-hole it’s tricky and we’ve got complete confidence in Brian, whatever he decided. It was great that she showed early speed – she’s had some races where she kind of went too back and had a hard time getting through traffic, but I don’t know if it was the course or Brian’s hands or whatever, even the class of the race, but it’s a big deal to see her laying closer.”

McPeek indicated Daddys Lil Darling could now target the $600,000 Beverly D. Handicap (G1)

“She’s a world traveler, she’s been everywhere. The Beverly D. is such a wonderful race to even participate in, but for her to have this kind of performance going in it’s going to make us pretty confident next month.”

Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Daddys Lil Darling, winner

“She was the class of the race,” said Hernandez. “The best thing to do with her today was just stay out of her way, let her find her rhythm, and that’s what she did. Kenny had her so prepared today that all I had to do was just kind of be a good passenger, and she’s a Grade I winner, she knows what she’s doing out there – I just let her do her thing.”

Jose Lopez, jockey Prado’s Sweet Ride, second

“I thought that the way she was travelling and the way she was carrying me around the turn I thought we had it for a minute.”

Joe Bravo, jockey Hallie Belle, third

“I’m really proud of this girl. She was sitting there nice. Unfortunately, the 11 horse (Sully’s Dream) was pulled up and took us from being three lengths off the pace to eight lengths of the pace. My horse exploded really nicely. She finished better than anyone in the race.”