Brown has foursome for Grade 1 Diana
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Saturday’s renewal of the Grade 1 Diana is shaping up as one of the best in the 77-year history of the event, due in large part to trainer Chad Brown, who will lead over four of the 10 starters in the 1 1/8-mile turf fixture for fillies and mares.
Brown will saddle two of the likely favorites in Dacita and Wekeela, along with Mrs Mcdougal, the winner of the Grade 2 Lake George on opening day here last summer, and Rainha Da Bateria.
“I’ve run four horses in several big races before, and I feel lucky to have this many horses of this caliber to run in this type of race,” said Brown. “I approach prestigious races like the Diana viewing each horse as an individual, and if I feel a horse deserves a shot in a race like that, I point them towards it regardless about any other horses I have. It’s not about me but about that horse and that client, and I believe all four of these horses fit in this race.”
Dacita is coming off her biggest win in the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park.
“She’s coming off a good win and seems to be rounding into form nicely at the moment,” said Brown. “She also has that all-important race over the turf course here, beating Tepin last year in the Ballston Spa.”
Wekeela has finished second in a pair of Grade 1 races since joining Brown’s stable for her 4-year-old campaign this year, including in the Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita on May 30.
“I think she’s a filly with a bright future, and we’ve been pointing her for this race since the Gamely,” said Brown.
Mrs Mcdougal and Rainha Da Bateria finished third and seventh in the Grade 1 Just a Game in their last start.
“I thought Mrs Mcdougal encountered a lot of trouble in the Just a Game, and the way the race played out, she wasn’t going to win but could have been second,” said Brown. “Rainha Da Bateria had a wide trip, and she’s a horse who really needs two turns.”
Miss Temple City, coming off her fourth-place finish at Royal Ascot in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, likely will be favored in a field that also includes Isabella Sings, Onus, Recepta, Sandiva, and Strike Charmer.
Brown, who won the Diana in 2011 with Zagora, is co-favored along with perennial champion Todd Pletcher to win the 2016 Saratoga training title. He describes that accomplishment as “a lifelong goal not only for me but also my entire staff.”
“Everything needs to go right to have a good meet here,” said Brown, who finished second behind Pletcher in the standings at the last five Saratoga meets. “We have a lot of grass horses, so the weather will play a big part in how we do. We’re also lucky we have a good, solid group of 2-year-olds, so we’ll see how they stack up. The last couple of years, the last week of the meet, we didn’t finish up well. Hopefully, we’ll have a good meet from Day 1 to Day 40, try to put the horses in the right spots, and the racing luck will ultimately decide how many of them win.”
Del Mar: San Diego
DEL MAR, Calif. – After a game second to Melatonin in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 25, Win the Space will be an outsider in Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar. Typically, a second-place finish in the Gold Cup would make Win the Space a leading contender in the Grade 2 San Diego. But the race came up unusually tough this year and is led by California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year, and Dortmund, a millionaire multiple stakes winner.
“This is a different area code against California Chrome and Dortmund,” Win the Space’s trainer, George Papaprodromou, said on Wednesday.
Win the Space, by Pulpit, is performing at his highest level this year. He won his first start of the year in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on May 15 and was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Melatonin in the Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles, his best result in a stakes.
Owned by Rustin Kretz, Win the Space will have his 12th start in the San Diego. Papaprodromou is hopeful that Win the Space can run well enough to justify a start in the $1 million Pacific Classic here on Aug. 20, the richest race of the summer in California.
“We’ll take it step by step,” Papaprodromou said. “Hopefully, he’ll run a huge race. My horse is going great.”
Win the Space is part of a projected field of six, although the race may not have that many starters. Others entered include Crittenden, Follow Me Crev, and Hard Aces.
On Wednesday, trainer John Sadler said that Hard Aces, who was third in the Gold Cup, will be entered for the $10 0,0 0 0 Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on Sunday. A decision on which race will be chosen for Hard Aces will be made closer to the weekend, he said.
Win the Space was ridden by Gary Stevens in the Gold Cup. Mike Smith has the mount Saturday. Stevens has the mount on Dortmund, who has not raced since winning the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes here last November. Dortmund was sidelined with a foot issue earlier this year.
California Chrome will be favored in his first start since a win in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 26. On Wednesday, California Chrome galloped and was schooled in the gate and paddock, trainer Art Sherman said.