The Diarmida (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Turf
March 3, 2018
It may only be a $200.000 purse, but the Grade 2 Diarmida has brought together some excellent turf horses, including Techfluence, eight year old star mare Volare, and other highly talented prospects, making up a field a good looking field. It is the 14th time that the race has been held in our game, and despite smaller purses, it has always been able to attract some great horses. They don’t get much better then legendary Bronze Sabre, who won this race in both 2010 and 2011. That allowed Maverick Racing to be the only two time winner of the stake, but in the jockey ranks, this has been a great spot for J J Castellano, who has won the stake four times, including with Moms Guy last year. The starting gate is pretty much, so let us meet our contenders.
#1- Techfluence (The Sidley Stud, ridden by J R Velazquez)- On the rail, we have Techfluence, who has now won eight of 26 career starts. His season began on the winning end of things, taking the Grade 3 Connally BC Turf at HOU. That was good to see, because if his form remains as good as it was to finish off 2017, then he should be able to win several more races this year. He likes to be near the early pace, but not necessarily to go right on the lead. The trainer will be hoping, we presume, for an ideal stalking trip while on the rail. Not that I am concerned, but I would have liked to have seen a more recent public work to try and stack him up against his biggest rivals coming in to the race.
#2- No Glaring At Me (Black N Gold Stable, ridden by J Rosario)- The trainer deserves a lot of credit for turning this $7.500 claimer into a stake winner in just three starts. The claimer was the first time that No Glaring At Me ran this distance, and Black N Gold certainly did their homework when looking, but maybe not glaring, at him. He’d win the claimer, and has gone on to bigger things, including a respectable 5th place run at the Connally six weeks ago.
#3- Blue Eight (Blushing Meadows, ridden by J J Castellano)- Looking for his fifth win in the Diarmida, J J Castellano gets to ride a horse that is looking for his signature win at this point. Blue Eight has been a regular participant at the graded level, and has some very good finishes here and there when looking at his career. Most recently, he was second in the Grade 3 McKnight as the trainer begins to run him on the grass. He’s a very good horse who has had quite a bit of success, but still needs a graded win, and that one race that he can be looked to as a champion of. He is 0-for-16 at the stake level. (5-for-11 otherwise)
#4- The Laffin Sniper (Diablo Diablo, ridden by J L Ortiz)- His career was heading in the right direction when he returned to the grass in late 2017, and he would pick up an impressive looking win in the Grade 1 HOL Derby, edging out City Ball Drop for that result. As good as that was, he just has not followed that up. There has only been one race, which saw him run in an open allowance and the result is stunning, and not anywhere near the form he had previously. I would assume that there was a reason for that, such as broken meters. Yes, he was second to Spanish Showboat, but 87 SRF can’t be ignored. Let’s up for a bounce back here.
#5- City Ball Drop (Pan Farms, ridden by A A Gallardo)- As a three year old, he participated in both the Haskell and the Travers last summer, but it was not until he was moved to the grass did he start to see his best results. He’d win the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at SA last October, before the second place run, to The Laffin Sniper, at the HOL Derby a month later. He followed that up by going to the Malibu, and picked up a check in that seven furlong Grade 1 on the main track. He’s had a couple months off now since that start, so hopefully he is ready to go here. I am not sure that the layoff is that big of a deal, but it needs to be noted.
#6- Nile Broom (Drabfantasy, ridden by J R Leparoux)- With this one we need to look past the past performances and wonder about this potential. After all, he has only started twice, and both were sprints, and wins. It’s been three months since the last start, and clearly he has worked on going this longer distance. I am impressed with his most recent work, so if he can back that up on the track, he could be a threat here. I would be more inclined to make him one of my picks though, if it were not for the layoff and will get him in his next race.
#7- Volare (Axeman, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- It takes a special filly or mare to make me think they have a chance to beat the boys, so usually, I shy away from them. Volare is one of those special ones there, as the eight year old has 18 wins and 50 starts, and she’s done this before whe nshe ran second in the BEL Gold Cup last June. I expect that she will be competitive here, because despite her age, she has remained very consistent. She likes to come from behind, and this is a race that may be very conducive to that strategy. A five pound weight advantage definitely helps her cause.
#8- First Rebellion (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by L H Colon)- This gelding knows how to win, having done so in 13 out of 21 career starts, and has amassed over $800.000 in career earnings. Early in his career, he picked up a lot of wins on the NY-bred circuit running for Mb Stables (who you may have noticed actually does not have an entry in this race), and prior to being put in the auction, he picked up a pair of graded victories. Hambletonian has picked him up, and in the last six weeks, he’s won two open allowances. I’m beginning to wonder now if this is the best horse that I’ve never actually written about in the SRF, that I can remember anyway.
#9- Speeding Zeus (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by L Saez)- After being acquired in private sales by Barcelona Farms for $25.000, Speeding Zeus immediately saw the toughest competition he ever faced, promoted to the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at SAR, and collected a fourth place check. After a few more races, he finally picked up his first graded win in the Grade 3 McKnight, defeating Blue Eight and the well known Lunar Blaze in the process. He was a 36/1 longshot that day, and his odds will be far less then that here today. Should be anyway, if for some virtual reason they climb, take a shot.
#10- Deep Down (Jkk Racing Stables, ridden by J Lezcano)- The trainer has done good work with this gelding the he claimed for just $12.500 about ten months ago, getting a pair of statebred wins, at SAR and AQU. Additionally, he’s run in a couple graded stakes, finishing 4th in the Grade 1 Secretariat and then third in the Grade 3 Saranac. Despite those good runs that earned checks, Deep Down never followed that up and has not been seen in a stake until now. He rose to the occasion before, let’s see if he can do it again, although this is not an ideal spot.
#11- Justin Credible (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by C Landeros)- The five year old gelding makes the 27th start of his career, but it would be just incredible if he could find a way to win from this outside post, because that has certainly not been the trend in the game lately. Perhaps, his running style makes him the type of horse that could do it, as he’s come from well off the pace in a couple of races.