Seven of the best grass females in the country will duke it out in the Grade I, $500,000 Diana Stakes on opening Saturday at Saratoga. The 1 1/8-mile turf classic is the headliner on an 11-race program that commences at 1 p.m. EST. Post time for the Diana, Race 10, is 6:18 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, be sure to check out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#2 PROCTOR’S LEDGE (4-1) is the best horse in the field not trained by Chad Brown and the most likely winner of the Diana. This year’s Distaff Turf winner at Churchill also has a pair of stakes placings in 2018. She was last seen finishing second to A RAVING BEAUTY in the Just A Game, but that was at one mile. The distance increase in the Diana should work in the favor of PROCTOR’S LEDGE. Another confidence-booster is her Saratoga record, as she’s a perfect 2-for-2 with strikes in the Lake George and Lake Placid. Jose Ortiz takes over as John Velazquez landed on SISTERCHARLIE.
#6 A RAVING BEAUTY (2-1) has begun her American career brilliantly, winning her first two starts. She was a facile victor in the 1 1/16th-mile Beaugay before seizing Grade I glory in the Just A Game. Things get a bit tougher for A RAVING BEAUTY as she’ll be asked to stretch out to nine furlongs in the Diana, but she does have a win and a third in two tries at the distance in her native Germany. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in the irons for Brown, who also saddles SISTERCHARLIE and NEW MONEY HONEY.
#1 SISTERCHARLIE (9-5, morning-line favorite) was as far as 28 lengths behind in the 1 1/4-mile New York Stakes when last seen but finished fast to miss by just a neck. Her style is apparent; she’ll lay far back early before making one sustained late run. The compact field is a double-edged sword for SISTERCHARLIE; she won’t have as much traffic to weave through but she may not get the pace she needs today. NEW MONEY HONEY and ULTRA BRAT would really have to mix it up early to give SISTERCHARLIE her best shot at winning. She’s best used underneath despite the presence of Velazquez.
The play: $2 exacta box 1/2/6, $2 exacta key box 2/1,6 ($20)
DFJ analysis: Jose Ortiz commands top dollar in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game, but he should justify that status on Saturday. He rides in eight races and his highest-priced mount is 8-1. None of Ortiz’s mounts are favored but he has a pair of second choices and will get a leg up on upset candidate PROCTOR’S LEDGE in the Diana.
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