The first Grade 1 Stakes race of the 2019 Saratoga meet is Saturday with the running of the $500,000 Diana Stakes which is contested at a mile and an eighth on the outer turf course. It is named for the mythological goddess Diana, the inaugural race was held in 1939.
This years Diana has attracted an elite field of six older fillies and mares, each with at least one Stakes Victory.
Eclipse Award-Winning trainer Chad Brown will try to Win the Diana for the fifth time.
He sends four into the race, including last year’s Champion Turf Female SISTERCHARLIE, who’s making her 2019 debut, in which she will try and extend a three-race winning streak.
The Diana is Race 9 on a card of 11 with a scheduled Post Time of 5:46 p.m. Eastern Time.
1. THAIS [ML 20-1] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Manny Franco. This European import (France) made her American debut in 2017 at Saratoga but has yet to register a Stakes victory in this country. Although she is a Stakes Winner in France, the best she has done here is a few third-place finishes, including in the the Beverly D. (G1) in 2018.
2. RUSHING FALL [ML 8-5] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Javier Castellano. She is one fast filly, and is is just a neck short of having a perfect nine-race record. Early in her career she Won races coming from off the pace but in her last three Victories, (which were all Grade 1’s) she ran on the lead.
3. MITCHELL ROAD [ML 8-1] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Jose Lezcano. She is on a four-race winning streak that began in an Aqueduct turf Allowance race in December and has continued through her first Graded Stakes Victory in the Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico in May. The 4-year-old has never finished worse than 2nd, but in this talented field she will come with relatively long odds.
4. SISTERCHARLIE [ML 3-2] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: John Velazquez. Last year’s champion turf female makes her 2019 debut here. There should be some concern that she is facing this top-notch field at the end of a long layoff. Yet she did Win a Grade 1 last year after a nine month break. Last out she Won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November.
5. SECRET MESSAGE [ML 12-1] Trainer: Graham Motion. Jockey: Trevor McCarthy. She has won both of her starts this year, with the more recent being the Nassau Stakes (G2) at Woodbine on a yielding turf course. Another closer in this compact field.
6. HOMERIQUE [ML 7-2] Trainer: Chad Brown. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. This Kentucky-bred filly began her career in France, where she was a Graded Stakes Winner. Since arriving in the states she has Won both of her Stakes starts at Belmont Park over Grade 1 type opponents. The nine-furlong distance of the Diana seems ideal for her closing move.
Summary: This is a small but very high-quality, competitive field. It is tough to eliminate any of these as a potential Winner based on talent alone. But when factoring in Value it gets a little easier.
That said, SISTERCHARLIE has to be considered the top choice to Win the race even though she has had not run for more than eight months. She was that good last year when she Won the division championship.
Best guess here is that SISTERCHARLIE and RUSHING FALL will be 1st and 2nd Post Time favorites.
But considering the race is taking place in The Graveyard Of Favorites the Daily Racing Blog is looking at others, and will key both MITCHELL ROAD and HOMERIQUE on top of a Trifecta using the rest of the field underneath.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.