A Triad for Chad in G1 Diana
By Jon Forbes | 07/24/2013 05:35 PM ET
Trainer Chad Brown, who won his first Grade 1 race two years ago when he captured the 2011 Diana with Zagora, could have as many as three starters when he attempts to add another victory in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.
The 75th running of the Diana, worth $600,000, was carded as the ninth race and is one of three graded stakes on Saturday's card, the others being the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress (race 5) for 3-year-old filly sprinters and the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy (race 10) for 3-year-olds. The Diana will be telecast from 5-6 p.m. EDT along with the Jim Dandy as the first of the NBC Sports Group's "Summer at Saratoga" series.
Heading Brown's triumvirate is 5-year-old Dream Peace, second by 1 ½ lengths in last year's Diana in her final start for French trainer Robert Collet, for whom she won the 2011 Group 2 Prix de la Nonette at Deauville.
Since being transferred to Brown by owner Etreham Farm, Dream Peace has finished third in four straight starts. She missed by a half-length in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational in September at Belmont and then came up two lengths short in her 2012 finale, the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor in October at Woodbine. Both of her 2013 starts have come at Belmont Park: a two-length loss in the Grade 3 Beaugay in May and a 1 ¾-length defeat in the Grade 2 New York on June 29.
In the 1 ¼-mile New York, Dream Peace raced six lengths off the pace in the early stages, made a five-wide run into the stretch, and lacked the rally necessary to overtake Starformer and Lady of Shamrock. Both the Beaugay and the New York were contested over firm turf.
"She probably prefers some give in the ground, but it looks like it's going to be dry the rest of the week," said Brown. "I don't know if we'll get the give in the ground we're looking for, but other than that it's her third race of the year, so it will be her best race."
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Dream Peace, 4-1 on the morning line, for the first time in the Diana. The Irish-bred daughter of Dansili drew the rail.
Martin Schwartz's Samitar is another import who will race for Brown in the Diana. She won the Grade 1 Garden City last September at Belmont in her first start for Brown before losing her next four starts, which included a second in the Grade 2 Honey Fox in March at Gulfstream Park and a third (awarded second-place purse money) in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in April at Keeneland.
After Samitar finished fourth in the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap in May at Pimlico Race Course, Brown dropped her in class for the restricted Fairy Garden on July 4 at Belmont, and the 4-year-old responded by coming from off the pace to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths. Samitar has raced exclusively over firm ground in seven starts since arriving in the United States from England.
"I put her in a listed stakes and she got back in form, and the number came back good," said Brown. "She appreciates firm ground, so if the turf is firm it could play in her favor."
Samitar, 6-1 on the morning line, will depart from post 6 with Joel Rosario aboard.
Brown also entered Dayatthespa in the Diana but hasn't decided whether the New York-bred champion will run in the race. Dayatthespa, winner of the 2012 Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, picked up her sixth stakes victory when she garnered the You Go West Girl overnight stakes for New York-breds in May at Belmont. She was second by three-quarters of a length after setting the pace in her most recent start, the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap on June 29 at Monmouth Park.
"I just want to have a look at the [Diana with Dayatthespa]," said Brown, who trains the daughter of City Zip for Jerry and Ronald Frankel, Steve Laymon, and Bradley Thoroughbreds. "I'd rather have her in there so I can take a look."
Javier Castellano was named to ride Dayatthespa, who was tabbed at 6-1 and drew post 3.
The 8-5 favorite on the morning line is Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Stephanie's Kitten, who is unbeaten in two starts this year. After winning the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile by a neck in May at Churchill Downs, she wore down Better Lucky to take the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game by a half-length over yielding ground on June 8 at Belmont Park. Both the Distaff Turf Mile and the Longines Just a Game were contested at one mile.
"She's coming off a couple of very good races," said trainer Wayne Catalano. "We're happy with the way she's coming into the race. The [extra distance] doesn't worry me with a couple of races under her belt."
In two previous starts at Saratoga, Stephanie's Kitten was fourth in the 2012 Grade 2 Lake George and won the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid.
Stephanie's Kitten will have the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post 2.
G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.'s Centre Court, who captured last year's Lake George and was second in the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid, finished fourth when she faced Stephanie's Kitten for a third time in the Longines Just a Game. Prior to that race, she had won three straight, all over firm turf: a two-length win in the Mrs. Revere in November at Churchill Downs, a 1 ¾-length win in the Grade 2 Honey Fox in March at Gulfstream, and a two-length win in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in April at Keeneland.
"I'm hoping it was the yielding ground [that caused Centre Court to not run her best race in the Longines Just a Game]," said trainer Rusty Arnold. "We'll know this week. We've always had a question, but that's what I think what it was. She had never run a bad race. She likes it here and ran well here last year. She has the same filly to beat as she did last year."
Centre Court, the 5-2 morning-line second choice, will leave from post 5 with Julien Leparoux aboard.
Completing the field is Laughing, who overtook Dayatthespa in the stretch to win the Eatontown Handicap. It was the second graded stakes win for the Richard Santulli color-bearer, who was victorious in the 2012 Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth.
The field for the Grade 1, $600,000 Diana: