May 26, 2024

Argentine star Didia stays perfect stateside in Modesty; Caravel sails in Royal Ascot prep

Didia with Vincent Cheminaud riding wins the Modesty S. (G3) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

After winning her first three U.S. starts, Argentine champion Didia stepped up in grade for Friday’s $300,000 Modesty (G3) at Churchill Downs. But the stiffer competition made no difference to the Ignacio Correas IV trainee, who rolled again and stamped herself as a rising force in the turf female division.

Bet down to 2.59-1 from a 5-1 morning line, the second choice carved out an inside stalking trip with regular pilot Vincent Cheminaud. Pacesetter Sweet Dani Girl was prompted by Lady Rockstar through fractions of :23.25, :47.84, and 1:11.58 on the firm course. Shantisara, the 2.33-1 favorite, was held up further back.

As Sweet Dani Girl shook free turning for home, Didia steered into the clear and mowed her down en route to a 1 1/2-length decision. The Merriebelle Stable colorbearer clocked 1 1/8 miles in a stakes-record 1:47.46, although this was just the second running at this trip at Churchill. Prior to 2022, the Modesty was a longtime 1 3/16-mile fixture at Arlington Park.

Sweet Dani Girl held second by a half-length from New Year’s Eve, who rallied out wide from last. Shantisara and her Chad Brown stablemate, McKulick, lacked any punch in fourth and fifth, respectively. Next came Sparkle Blue and Lady Rockstar. Henrietta Topham and Kate’s Kingdom were scratched.

Didia sports an overall mark of 11-8-1-0, $472,109. Campaigned in Argentina by her breeder, La Manija, the daughter of Orpen was honored as champion three-year-old filly of the 2021-2022 season. She romped in her final three outings at San Isidro—the Premio Federico de Alvear (G2), Gran Premio Enrique Acebal (G1), and Gran Premio Copa de Plata (G1) over older distaffers—and continued her streak stateside.

Debuting for Correas off a seven-month layoff, Didia scored in a July 18 allowance at Colonial Downs. The bay added the Aug. 16 Old Nelson S. over the same course and 1 1/16-mile trip, flying from well back to get up in time.

Didia was not seen again until the Mar. 25 Tom Benson Memorial S. at Fair Grounds, where she quickened late to overhaul Adventuring. She employed handier tactics in the Modesty, and Correas was relieved to see her secure good position.

“I won’t say I was worried,” Correas said, “but they were bunched tightly at the start. I felt more confident once I saw her settle into third. From there, it was just a matter of whether or not she would have her kick. I don’t know how she does it, but she always makes it look easy.”

Cheminaud is already looking forward to bigger targets.

“This year, she has progressed in every race,” her rider said. “We had a good trip today, and when I asked her for run today, she responded. It’s a nice filly and I hope she will progress and win a Grade 1 this year.”

Out of the Group 1-placed Delambre, a mare by the Rainbow Quest stallion Rainbow Corner, Didia is a full sister to multiple Argentine Group 1-placed Dedini and Singaporean champion Davide. Another full sibling, Delirada, is the dam of multiple Group 1 hero Tetaze, who was Argentina’s Horse of the Year for 2020-21.

Later on Kentucky Oaks Day, reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) queen Caravel sailed through the $300,000 Unbridled Sidney S., her tune-up for Royal Ascot. The 0.74-1 favorite was entitled to jog in this spot, as she was reverting to distaff company following major wins over males.

Caravel with Tyler Gaffalione riding wins the Unbridled Sidney S. at Churchill Downs (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Trained by Brad Cox and under good handling by Tyler Gaffalione, Caravel grabbed command by the first call and held sway comfortably. The gray posted splits of :21.97 and :44.62, widened her margin to three lengths, and won in hand by 1 1/2 lengths.

Caravel sped 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.47, also stakes record in this fifth running at the distance, and extended her winning spree to four.

“She’s been breaking better the last four or five starts,” Gaffalione said, “and she’s putting herself in good spots. She gets comfortable and it’s all easy for her. She’s just a very fast filly. The second you ask her, she turns on the jets. She finishes the job well.”

Bay Storm and Sarah Harper closed to snatch the minor awards, with Bay Storm taking second by a head. New Boss rallied from last for fourth. Oeuvre and Little Jewel, who chased for a good way, tired to fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 10-horse field.

Owned by Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel, and Madaket Stables, Caravel boosted her bankroll to $1,677,577 from a 22-14-0-3 line. Her skein began with last fall’s Franklin (G3) at Keeneland prior to her 42-1 upset of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over the same course. The Mizzen Mast mare returned to the scene and made it a hat trick in the April 8 Shakertown (G2).

Royal Ascot beckons, with the five-furlong King’s Stand (G1) on June 20 and the June 24 Platinum Jubilee (G1), over a sixth furlong, her options.

“That’s the plan,” Cox said. “We will see how she comes out of this race first and foremost, but that was one reason we brought her back at the age of six. We took her out of the (Keeneland) November sale, and that’s been the goal.”