Making an early move into a hot pace is tiring for some horses, but not Girl Daddy. The 2-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo kicked off the 2020-21 Road to the Kentucky Oaks in resounding fashion when driving to victory in the $200,000 Pocahontas (G3) on Thursday at Churchill Downs.
Bred by China Horse Club International and owned by Albaugh Family Stables, Girl Daddy made a great impression while defeating eight rivals in the one-mile Pocahontas. Sent away as the 33-10 third choice with jockey Joe Talamo in the saddle, Girl Daddy didn’t get off to the quickest start, but soon recovered to settle in midpack as Inject and Mania dueled hard for the lead through fast fractions of :22.22 and :44.97.
Racing wide, Girl Daddy advanced into the teeth of the hot pace, then took command through 6 furlongs in 1:10.17. Stretch-running favorite Crazy Beautiful was strung up in traffic rallying from the back of the pack. Splitting horses to unleash a challenge, she could not catch the winner. Girl Daddy never wavered in the drive and edged clear late to score by two lengths in a snappy 1:34.94.
“This filly was super impressive with that fast pace up front,” said winning trainer Dale Romans. “They were running really fast but Joe got her in a great spot.”
Crazy Beautiful fought on gamely despite a traffic-filled trip to finish second by 3 3/4 lengths over the pace-tracking Alexandria. Xtrema, Fabricate, Mania, American Grace, Inject, and Blissful Change completed the order of finish in a strung-out field.
Girl Daddy was winning for the second time in as many starts, having previously cruised by 5 1/2 lengths in her debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Ellis Park.
“What a talented filly she is,” said Talamo. “It’s crazy that they went in :44 and change. The way she was going, it felt like :46 and change. That’s how you know you’re on a good one. Her mind is what makes her so talented. When she won at Ellis Park she acted like she had run 12 times. It was the same thing today. She was on the muscle, but in a good way.”
Produced by the stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Cara Marie, Girl Daddy has already earned $141,240, a sizable chunk of her $500,000 purchase price. Prevailing in the Pocahontas secured the gray filly 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, as well as a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland.
“She’s shown some incredible talent for this stage of her career,” said Romans. “It’s exciting having a filly developing this quickly. We’re thrilled to only have to take a short trip down the road to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Having passed her first two tests with flying colors, it appears the sky is the limit for Girl Daddy.