The Diana – Grade I
SAR Race #8 1 1/8m Turf Graded Stake
Purse $500.000 For Fillies And Mares Three Years Old And Upward.
1 Heartland, trained by TwinTowersRacing
This filly would be favourite most times for a race like this, but today she faces one of the best fields of turf fillies and mares assembled so far this year. She burst onto the scene last year shortly after being claimed for just $12.500, winning the DMR Oaks pretty easily. She failed to live up to that success for the rest of her three year old career but has made up for it this season with three graded stakes wins. The best of those was in her penultimate start when taking the grade one Wiley by a hard fought neck after making all from a wide draw. That was a solid win, but she couldn’t repeat the feat in the Just A Game last time when also faced with a wide draw and raced the stalk. The pace was quicker that day, explaining why she weakened off the speed, and with a much better draw today, I expect her to be settling midfield and coming much stronger at the end. Working well, she could easily be the top choice here.
2 Christine, trained by John Henry
Another that reached some heady heights after a cheap claim, she is a dual grade one winner, although just lately she has looked like the years are catching up with her. Her last big success came in the First Lady last October, and though she has been in the top grade since, her form has been slowly tailing off. Her last effort in the Eatontown was just a little one paced and whilst HRP is just the sort of place where she could bounce back to winning form and prove me wrong, a win looks unlikely.
3 Ghost Runner, trained by Pumpkin Racing
Last years BEL Oaks winner, she went onto to be second to Heartland in the DMR Oaks and then a close fourth in the BC fillies and mares turf. She began this season with a roar in the grade two Fox, making all and winning easily but has failed to make the frame in her two runs since. Her last start fifth in the Just A Game wasn’t bad, but she weakened off the front that day and may struggle with this trip if the same tactics are employed. A flagship horse for the stable, she has as good a chance as any, if today is her day.
4 Spanish Pussycat, trained by Allinthegate
She was switched to black type after winning a TUP allowance by eight lengths, and she has proven she can live in that grade with 4 good efforts. Her last two starts at grade three level have resulted in two close seconds, and whilst she isn’t the most accomplished in the field, you can make an each way case for her from a good draw.
5 Tropics, trained by Smokey Stover
The stable has been smoking for the past few months, and this filly is a good example of their fortunes. Third in the BC filles and mares turf last year as well as the winner of the American Oaks, she had struggled a little in her 3 starts previous to her last this year, and questions were beginning to get asked. Her last start, however, came in the grade one Just A Game where she powered home by just under a length in a solid winning time. Lots of positives about her, and she will be among the favourites.
6 Pip Kadabra, trained by Chili King Stables
This filly just about sums up HRP this year as she has beaten and been beaten by Tropics making it virtually impossible to pick between them. The one advantage she does have is this may be the right trip for her, but that is a big assumption, and I say it with little confidence. Her win the in the Sheepshead Bay was very good, but she couldn’t get the job done in the Just A Game last time, although she may have been finishing strongest of the first three from a tougher draw, so you could easily make a case for her turning the tables today.
7 Attraction, trained by Mm Racing
How good would it be to see the reigning BC fillies and mares champion take this race just as she did last year? One of the few horses to take two BC titles, she would only have to be at about 90% to win this race. She started this year quietly running in state bred stakes races and winning one, but whereas last season she ran second in a statebred and then won the Wiley, this season she ran fairly poorly by her standards in The Wiley, finishing a never dangerous fifth. She looked a little more enthusiastic in the NY, finishing second last time, but that still wasn’t her brilliant best and questions must be asked as to whether she can sustain her best for a third straight year.
8 Darkest Days, trained by Mb Stables
Well, as is usual at HRP, this three year old gets lumps of weight off her rivals, and she is working just as fast suggesting winning this is just a formality. Many of the four year olds in this field built their reputation on what they did as three year olds when they got the weight breaks, and today it could easily be the turn of this grade one winning three, just as it was in the United Nations last time. A winner of seven from ten and a daughter of the much talked about Commanding, put all the facts together including that grade one win last time, and she looks an obvious choice.
9 Devil Wears Prada, trained by Axeman
This six year old just refuses to go away and get old as she proved last time in the grade one Gamely. A regular in top grade, she took it easy at the end of last year picking off some allowance races but has burst back onto the big stage in her last two when a close second in the Wiley and then a fairly comfortable winner of the grade one last time. She looks to be in the best form of her career and will certainly be making her presence felt in this race.
10 Commanding Faith, trained by Crocker Cgs
Another three year old, so she too will be enjoying a weight advantage that will put her right into the reckoning despite just 5 career starts and one win. She broke her maiden in the grade two Honeymoon Stakes last time, which was quite an achievement, and her works are good enough with her weight break to give her a big chance for a three year old one two. So, unable to win a maiden but good enough to take down the top female turfers in the game…only at HRP.
11 Notarized Kate, trained by Pristine Stables
This filly makes things really interesting as she is a grade one winner, but is facing turf for the first time. Not only does she have to cope with the change of surface, she also has to deal with the wide gate, so I am hoping her stable is armed with counteracting instructions, as it would be a shame to see her shoot out to the lead and weaken. Her win in the Phipps last time was out of the top drawer on dirt and her turf works haven’t been bad, so this definitely adds interest to an already interesting race.
With a field of such great fillies and mares, it pains me to say that the three year old weight allowance will be enough to see one of them win, but they are the sad facts at HRP at the moment. My heart says Attraction, my head says Darkest Days, my common sense says any of them could, win so just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.