In a race reminiscent of her victory over Tepin nearly a year ago in the Ballston Spa, Dacita charged from last to a narrow victory over a game but hard-luck runner-up Recepta, with Rainha Da Bateria and the favorite Miss Temple City finishing just a head and a nose farther behind, in one of the more thrilling renewals of the Grade 1 Diana decided under a light shower Saturday at Saratoga.
Trainer Chad Brown, who sent out four of the 10 starters in the 1 1/8-mile Diana, including both Dacita and Rainha Da Bateria, had to sweat out a stewards inquiry into the stretch run before the result was official.
Dacita rallied from the rear of the pack to a head decision over Tepin in the final strides here last summer of the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, and she parlayed a similar trip into her first Grade 1 win Saturday. With a patient Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, Dacita was reserved at the rear of the field off a fairly lively pace set by Isabella Sings and prompted by Onus. Dacita was still last, while swinging widest with her rally into the stretch, then finished full of run out past the center of the course to get up in time despite lugging in just a bit to brush with stable mate Rainha Da Bateria nearing the wire.
Recepta raced well-placed, swung four wide advancing into the stretch, gained a narrow advantage near the furlong grounds, continued on gamely and just missed. Miss Temple City, the 5-2 choice, lacked clear sailing upon settling into the stretch, angled toward the inside looking for clearance, continued on willingly but was not quite good enough.
Dacita, who won the Grade 2 New York going 1 1/4 miles in her previous start, is owned by Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds. She covered the distance in 1:46.25 over a firm course and returned $10.20.
“In the end, it was like a replay of the Ballston Spa last year when she got up in the last jump,” said Brown, who earned his first Grade 1 win in the 2011 Diana with Zagora.
“Dacita loves Saratoga and knows where the wire is. They were really rolling along the first quarter and it set the tone for the race, that someone from behind, or at least mid-pack at worst, was going to have the best run. Irad was patient and worked out a great trip, he timed it just right.”
Brown also praised Rainha Da Bateria’s effort.
“I know her odds were long, but I’m not going to run just to run here at Saratoga,” Brown said. “I’m running horses I like. That filly was training well. I didn’t place her right in the Just a Game. She really wants two turns, and wants longer. She ran great.”
Brown said all four of his starters in the Diana, including Mrs. McDougal and Wekeela who finished seventh and last respectively, would head in different directions next time.
“Obviously, two of our horses ran well and two were disappointing,” Brown said. “I need to go back to the drawing board and see what happened, because I know they are all top-class horses.”