Like the majority of Thoroughbred trainers, Tampa Bay Downs conditioner Tim Hamm is a realist. And he knows it is unlikely his filly Dayoutoftheoffice will be announced as the Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old filly Jan. 28 after her second-place finish to Vequist in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 6 at Keeneland.
After a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 Jan. 24 at Tampa Bay Downs—the second fastest of 40 works at the distance—Hamm expects Dayoutoftheoffice to earn another shot against Vequist in the near future. Dayoutoftheoffice breezed four furlongs a week earlier in :49 3/5 in her first workout of 2021.
"She's coming back incredibly well. Her work today (with exercise rider Alfredo Clemente aboard) was awesome," Hamm said. "She just did it real easy and she galloped out super strong. She is way ahead of schedule, and it's a good feeling that we can handle her how we want and have her plenty fit for whatever race we choose (as her 3-year-old debut)."
"We nominated her to the (Feb. 6) Suncoast (at Tampa Bay Downs), but that is probably a little too quick," he said.
Although Dayoutoftheoffice is 1-1 against Vequist, having beaten her in the Oct. 10 Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, and had a better record last year—three victories from four starts, with the lone second in the Juvenile Fillies, compared to Vequist's two victories and two seconds—Eclipse voters have traditionally given extra weight to winning a Breeders' Cup race.
"Just being nominated is great. It says you had one of the best 2-year-old fillies in the country," said Hamm, who also owns Dayoutoftheoffice under his Blazing Meadows Farm banner in partnership with Siena Farm. "I'd love to say we have a chance, but if you're voting, you're going to see who won on championship day" at the Breeders' Cup.
The third nominee in the 2-year-old filly category is Aunt Pearl, whose 3-for-3 record includes a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T).
Hamm had a previous brush with Eclipse Award glory, having sold Wait a While as an unraced 2-year-old in 2005 after purchasing her the previous year as a yearling. She was part of his pinhooking program and reaped a $210,000 profit. In 2006, Wait a While earned the Eclipse as champion 3-year-old filly for owner Arindel and trainer Todd Pletcher.
"We breed them, raise them, sell them, and race them. It is all part of our plan," Hamm said.