Normandy Farm’s primary goal may be the Kentucky Oaks (GI) with Daddys Lil Darling, but the Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Scat Daddy is starting her year off on the turf in the Florida Oaks (GIIIT), where she will face the well-regarded Mark Casse pair of Tamit and La Coronel.
When she broke her maiden in July, Daddys Lil Darling was supposed to be racing on the turf, but rained forced the race onto the main track, resulting in an eight-length runaway victory. The strong effort propelled her to a half-length score in the Pocahontas Stakes (GII) at Churchill Downs in her next start. The filly followed that up with late-running efforts that saw her second in the Alcibiades Stakes (GI), fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and second in the Golden Rod Stakes (GII). McPeek has mentioned that as long as she comes out of this race well, Daddys Lil Darling is likely to make her next start in the April 8 Ashland Stakes (GI) back on the dirt at Keeneland.
La Coronel has not been seen since finishing sixth as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf (GIT), but trainer Mark Casse is excited to get the filly going this year for owner John Oxley. After a four-length maiden win at Saratoga and a 4 ¼-length romp in the Jessamine Stakes (GIIIT), Casse was left thinking he may have another Catch a Glimpse on his hands. While the Breeders’ Cup finish was disappointing, the Colonel John filly didn’t have the best of trips and seems to have rebounded fine.
Robert E. Masterson hopes he has another turf star on his hands with Tamit, who, like his better-known runner Tepin, is trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux. The Fastnet Rock filly was a powerful debut winner at Keeneland last October before taking some time off to rest for her 3-year-old campaign. In her two starts this year, Tamit was second in an allowance race and fourth in the Sweetest Chant Stakes (GIIIT), experiencing significant trouble in both races.
Also coming out of the Sweetest Chant are Compelled and Fifty Five. Owned by Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor, Compelled came into the Sweetest Chant off of a 6 ¼-length win in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf Stakes for Florida-breds. The daughter of War Front looked well on her way to victory in the Sweetest Chant before being caught late by Rymska. Empire Equine LLC’s Tom Bush-trained Fifty Five should appreciate the extra sixteenth of a mile after coming up just a nose short of second in the Sweetest Chant. Prior to that she defeated fellow Florida Oaks entrant Tamit by a half-length in an allowance and broke her maiden against New York-breds at Aqueduct.
Stakes winner Dynatail, allowance winners Like a Hurricane and Super Marina, and maiden winner Valentine Wish round out the field.
Carded as the 9th race on the Saturday program, scheduled post time for the Florida Oaks is approximately 4:25 pm ET.