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Pocahontas Preview: Girl Daddy Steps Up After Impressive Debut
Girl Daddy winning at Ellis Park (Credit: Coady Photography)

Pocahontas Preview: Girl Daddy Steps Up After Impressive Debut

LOUISVILLE, KY – Albaugh Family Stables’ Girl Daddy steps up after an impressive debut victory to face a talented field in Thursday’s $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.

The winner of the Pocahontas will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

The Pocahontas is a one-turn dirt mile event open to 2-year-old fillies. The 2020 edition attracted 12 runners, including a pair who have already earned their stakes stripes.

Let’s look at the full field:

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#1 Fabricate – A maiden-breaking debut while covering 6 furlongs over the local strip earned her a shot at the Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park, where she rallied from far off the pace to finish third. Added distance and a fast early pace should help this Speightster filly’s chances of turning the tables on the two rivals who bested her.

#2 Scat’s Choice – She broke her maiden at third asking, winning by 3 3/4 lengths while covering 5 furlongs at Belterra Park in July. She failed to hit the board in the Sorrento Stakes (G2) at Del Mar a month later, but trainer/co-owner Jim Chapman has an 18% strike rate with juveniles, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see an improved effort here.

#3 American Grace – She was a sharp debut winner at Ellis Park last month, crossing 2 1/2 lengths clear in the 7-furlong event. A daughter of the 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) champion American Pharoah, she reunites with jockey Gabriel Saez, aboard for her career unveiling.

#4 Dream Quist – After struggling in the local 5-furlong slop on debut in late June, she broke her maiden while covering this distance at Ellis Park a month later. She is from the first crop of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) champion Nyquist and retains Rafael Bejarano, who opts to ride her instead of her Kenny McPeek stablemate.

#5 Ava’s Grace – She broke her maiden on debut with a rallying effort at Ellis Park in July, then shipped to Saratoga and set the early pace in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) before tiring and finishing third. Jockey David Cohen and trainer Robertino Diodoro have won an impressive 23% of their past 367 mounts together.

#6 Crazy Beautiful – After breaking her maiden while debuting in a mile-long turf event at Ellis Park, she returned a month later to win the Debutante in her dirt debut, toppling three rivals whom she faces again here. The second entry from the Kenny McPeek barn was favored in both prior starts and is expected to attract much of the betting public’s attention again here.

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#7 Blissful Change – Though her debut in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint at Keeneland did not go well, she was a lights-out victor in an off-turf dirt route at Indiana Grand a month later. That 9 1/4-length romp, which came while going 1 mile and 70 yards, was enough to earn her a shot here, where she faces several rivals who may or may not want to go this far.

#8 Xtrema – She broke her maiden by 4 lengths while debuting in a 5-furlong sprint over the Golden Gate Fields synthetic surface, then traveled to Ellis Park and finished fourth in the Debutante while enduring a bumper-car trip. With rain forecast for Thursday, she could be very sneaky over a wet track – her sire, Exaggerator, had a 5-4-1-0 wet track record.

#9 Alexandria – The field’s winningest filly has crossed the wire first in all 3 career starts, including the Tah Dah Stakes at Belterra Park and the Miss Ohio Stakes at Thistledown. This is a big class test since every prior start came against Ohio-breds, but she has improved in each start and is by the red-hot Constitution, sire of the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Tiz the Law.

#10 Inject – She blew the doors off her rivals when she debuted at Ellis Park in mid-August, drawing off to win the 5-furlong contest by 6 lengths. Julien Leparoux hops back aboard for trainer Stanley Hough; the two have won 7 of their past 18 mounts together (39%), including last fall’s Street Sense Stakes over this same course and distance.

#11 Girl Daddy – She broke her maiden on debut at Ellis Park, winning by 5 1/2 lengths while traversing 6 furlongs, and has the right breeding to continue succeeding early: her sire, Uncle Mo, won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Trainer Dale Romans has won this race 3 times, tying him for most all-time; victory here would put him solely at the top of that list.

#12 Mania – The field’s lone maiden nearly succeeded at second asking while wearing blinkers for the first time, missing by a nose in a local 5-furlong sloppy event behind a next-out stakes winner. After finishing second without blinkers in the Debutante last time out, she changed barns to current trainer Chris Davis, who puts the hood back on the Run Away and Hide filly.

The Pocahontas serves as race 10 and is one of two stakes on the Saturday card at Churchill Downs, including the Opening Verse. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue Saturday under the Twin Spires with the Iroquois (TVG Juvenile Presented by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance).

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.

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