The first Grade I event of the Saratoga meeting is the Diana Stakes for fillies and mares at a mile-and-an-eighth on turf. The $500,000 Diana takes place this Saturday at 5:55 p.m. EST, and it goes as Race 10 on an 11-race program. Don’t forget to participate in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#2 MISS TEMPLE CITY (3-1 morning-line favorite) is my top choice. This will be her first start since running a solid fourth in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. Before that she fired arguably the most impressive effort on turf this year, beating the boys convincingly in the Grade I Makers Mile at Keeneland back in April. The more I replay that effort in my head the tougher it is to bet against MISS TEMPLE CITY, but this will not be a cakewalk for her and Drayden Van Dyke.
Chad Brown sends out four horses that all have a legitimate case in this heat; leading the way is #4 WEEKEELA (7-2). She disappointed in the Grade I Gamely at Santa Anita last time out but still ran credibly, finishing second by just a length. Before that she ran second to the world-class Tepin in the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. Javier Castellano chose to stay aboard, which is a plus.
The other Brown entrant that caught my eye is #9 RAINHA DA BATERIA (20-1), who will easily go off as the longest-priced of the Brown quartet. She gets a rider change to Julien Leparoux, which is a never a bad thing in a turf race. She also does her best running from far back, which should enable her to capitalize on a potentially honest pace set by #8 ONUS and #10 ISABELLA SINGS. Her Grade III Suwannee River effort from February at these conditions puts her right in the mix. I feel that she’s had some legitimate excuses for her three efforts following that one, from wide trips to slow breaks.
Finally, I would not be surprised if one of the other Chad Brown trainees (#5 MRS MACDOUGAL and #6 DACITA) hits the board, but they won’t be on my tickets. MRS MACDOUGAL tends to struggle going beyond a mile, while DACITA’S best efforts have come beyond the nine-furlong distance of the Diana.
The play: $5 exacta 2/4,9, $2 exacta 4,9/2 ($14)
DFJ analysis: Drayden Van Dyke is in town exclusively to ride MISS TEMPLE CITY, so he’s not a wise play this Saturday. However, Javier Castellano ($11,000) is poised to have a good day as he has several live mounts in addition to WEEKEELA. He’s on the morning-line second-choice in the first and third race, and later in the card is named on three consecutive Brown horses (races six through eight), two of which are favored.
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