by Ellis Starr
The 78th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Stakes is part of a magnificent opening weekend race card at historic Saratoga Race Course. All 10 fillies and mares are graded stakes winners, with two of them previous grade 1 winners. Dacita (CHI) won a trio of group 1 races in her native Chile and enters the race off a win in the Grade 2 New York Stakes last month, while Miss Temple City won the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile against males this past spring. Isabella Sings won the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes in her most recent race and is very likely to be in front from the opening of the gate where she likes to be. Wekeela has finished second in both starts since coming to the U.S. from France, most recently when beaten just a length in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes in California. Similarly, Recepta was second in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes last month and is one of five horses in the field that have won previously over the Saratoga turf course.
Dacita won six of nine starts in her native Chile before shipping to the U.S. last summer and earning a win over this turf course in the Ballston Spa Stakes with a very strong 114 Equibase Speed Figure. She lost her next three starts but was beaten just a neck in one of them, before a strong win last month in the New York Stakes at Belmont. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. was in the saddle for the first time in the New York and rides back in the Diana, so the same or even better is expected. In the New York, Dacita ran the last quarter of a mile in under 22 seconds, a late kick that should be good enough to earn her second graded stakes win in a row if repeated.
Miss Temple City ran the best race of her career last fall when beaten a head in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with a 115 figure. After six months off, Miss Temple City returned to beat males in the Maker’s 46 Mile in April, earning a new career best figure of 123. Sent to England to face some of the best milers in the world in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, and over a soft course she had never run over previously, Miss Temple City wasn’t disgraced a bit when fourth of 14. Working splendidly for her return to U.S. racing, Miss Temple City could be formidable, with the added benefit of positive experience on the Saratoga turf, having finished second in the Lake Placid Stakes last summer.
Isabella Sings is likely to jaunt out to the early lead as she likes to do, but she did win the Miss Liberty Stakes in May when fourth in the early stages so she is not wed to an early running style if need be. Isabella Sings has never run at Saratoga but she has won six of 15 starts and finished second in four others so has proven to be very competitive. Considering she has earned the best two figures of her career, 113 and 114, in her last two races, Isabella Sings has to be considered a strong contender in this year’s Diana.
Wekeela (FR) and Recepta are two more horses to consider as contenders in this year’s Diana, at the least for exacta and trifecta tickets played as they could easily be second or third. Wekeela has finished second in both U.S. starts, both grade 1 races, with 117 and 109 figures, while Recepta ran the last quarter mile in 22 seconds when the runner-up in the Just a Game Stakes in her most recent start, earning a 113 figure.
The rest of the Diana Stakes field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Mrs McDougal (111), Onus (106), Rainha Da Bateria (109), Sandiva (IRE) 121 and Strike Charmer (111).
Miss Temple City
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