MIKE SMITH, DADDYS LIL DARLING, WINNER: “Kenny said not to be surprised if we were laying a whole lot closer today. We’re so used to seeing her run double digits out the back but she’s been training really well and really aggressively. He said,’ It’s OK, she can just do 48’s and keep reelin’ them off.’ He said as long as she jumps well, to leave her up there, as long as she was happy. To not take anything away that was coming easily and that’s pretty much what I did.
“I didn’t want to have to wait for room. The horse right in front of me (Javier Castellano, on New Money Honey) spread the turn a little but I knew he was going to drop back in. I went outside of him anyway and he dropped back in and I was able to really get a good momentum going at that point which I needed because Corey was coming on my outside.”
COREY NAKATANI, MADAM DANCEALOT, SECOND: “She ran a tremendous race. She likes to run from off the pace and we didn’t want to change her style today. I was hoping we could catch the winner, but we couldn’t quite get there. Like I say, maybe we could’ve tried to sit a little closer, but we didn’t want to change anything because she’s been finishing so well in all of her races.”
KEN McPEEK, DADDY’S LIL DARLING, WINNER: Asked about winning the last Grade I of 2017: “We’ve been a bit of a bridesmaid all year. We’ve had 83 thirds on 53 winners, which is a little frustrating and kind of an odd number.
“We’ve had some horses run really well; she was second in the (Grade I) Kentucky Oaks, second in the (Grade I) Ashland, but it was one of those things. What are you going to do but keep trying? We wanted to keep her in straight three-year-old filly competition before the year was out. Fortunately, she stayed on form.
“It was a bit frustrating (not getting a Grade I) because she was always competitive but didn’t have things go her way . . . but she’s a special filly and you just have to keep trying t with those kind. She tries hard on any kind of going, and that makes a trainer’s job pretty easy.
“I felt pretty confident (when Madam Dancealot was closing on the outside in the stretch).I felt like we had a big chance. I wasn’t worried about the distance sat all. The fact that she sat third early is a pretty big deal, because she’s had some races where she ended up back there eighth, ninth and had to circle the field.”
OWNER/BREEDER NANCY POLK OF NORMANDY FARM, DADDYS LIL DARLING, WINNER: “I was feeling excitement and purer panic at the end there. Madam Dancealot was closing and I thought, ‘Oh no!’ But she hung on and she did very well. We’ve been working for this Grade I win for a while so it’s wonderful to have it under our belt.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Normandy Farm.
ZOE METZ PHOTOGRAPHY