Brown has four­some for Grade 1 Diana

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Mike Welsch – Steve An­der­sen

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.

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