Obligatory, left, surges by Dayoutoftheoffice to win the Grade 2 Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 30, 2021. Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Dayoutoftheoffice, Obligatory Meet Again in Acorn Stakes

By Alicia Hughes

Blazing Meadows Farm and Siena Farm’s Tim Hamm-trained Dayoutoftheoffice returns to the course and distance of her greatest triumph when she takes on five other talented sophomore fillies in the Grade 1, $500,000 Acorn Stakes on June 5 at Belmont Park. 

Traditionally one of America’s premier races for sophomore fillies, the one-mile Acorn is one of eight top-level races on Belmont’s Saturday card headlined by the 153rd edition of the Belmont Stakes (G1), the final leg of the Triple Crown. 

Trained and co-owned by Tim Hamm, Dayoutoftheoffice has not finished worse than second in five career starts and enjoyed her best moment thus far when she captured the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont last October 10. The daughter of Into Mischief would go on to run second to eventual divisional champion Vequist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and put in a game run to take place honors behind Obligatory when she made her seasonal bow in the Eight Belles (G2) over seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on April 30.

“She’s doing great and coming in perfect,” Hamm said. “We worked her on Sunday morning and she went just as prescribed, doing exactly what we wanted. We are confident, but when you get to this level of racing, you need a good trip. She’s coming into the race in good shape.

“I think she’ll be close to the pace. She’s been tactical her whole career.”

Bred and co-owned by Siena Farms, Dayoutoftheoffice won her first three career starts including the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga last July 16. 

“She’s always been a mature filly, even at two, and has been very good mentally,” Hamm said. “She has put some body back on as a 3-year-old and the big thing about coming off the layoff with a filly is making sure they having the same ambition at three. We circled the Acorn as a target.”

Juddmonte homebred Obligatory got the perfect targets to run at last month when she took advantage of wicked early fractions to come from the clouds and best Dayoutoftheoffice by a length in the Eight Belles. That victory marked a big step forward for the daughter of Curlin coming off a fourth-place finish in the March 20 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), and the one-turn nature of Saturday’s Acorn appears to be her comfort zone. 

“(Trainer) Bill (Mott) thought she got a bit confused by the two turns in the Fair Grounds Oaks and didn’t really run until the last furlong,” said Garrett O’Rourke, general manager of Juddmonte Farms. “Her style is exactly as she produced at Churchill Downs and she got a fantastic pace set up that day. Whether she gets the same pace set up or not, I think she’ll get speed to run at, but she might not get the blazing hot pace that she got on Eight Belles day. 

“That said, there is an extra furlong this time as well as I don’t think that will be any disadvantage to her being a Curlin. It might just give her more time to get rolling.”

Klaravich Stables’ Search Results tasted defeat for the first time in four starts when she ran second in the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (G1), but the daughter of Flatter gained stature as she was only a neck short that day behind divisional leader Malathaat. Trained by Chad Brown, Seach Results came into the Oaks off a 2 ¾-length victory in the 1 1/8-miles Gazelle Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on April 3 and previously won at the eight-furlong distance in the Busher Invitational on March 6.

“She’s come back and worked really well. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that even if they work well, you’re going to find out how they’re really doing at the quarter-pole and how much the last race did or didn’t affect them,” Brown said. “I just can’t pass on a race where she would be favorite in a Grade 1 and she’s training this well. I am looking at the five weeks wishing I had a little more time for my own comfort, knowing what a hard stretch duel it was, but she’s doing well.” 

OXO Equine’s Brad Cox-trained Travel Column, a dual graded stakes winner, was sent off as the second choice in the Kentucky Oaks, but faded to fifth after setting the pace. The daughter of Frosted cuts back to one turn for the first time since graduating on debut over six furlongs in September.

“She’s a multiple Grade 2 winner and hopefully we can get her a Grade 1,” Cox said. “I like the cutback from a mile and an eighth to a one-turn mile. I think it’ll be a positive for her. She’s been training well. She’s had three nice breezes since the Oaks. With a good setup, she can make a big impression on Saturday.”