This weekend marks the start of the summer racing season at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York, and to help get things started in a big way is the running of Saturday’s $500,000 Diana Stakes for some of the best fillies and mares in the country. This will be the 80th edition of this major graded event.
The field for this year’s Diana Stakes continues to take shape with 10 entries listed as probable or possible a few days out from post time. The projected field is also deep in talent, but I have narrowed things down to my top three contenders for a winning trifecta ticket.
Diana Stakes At Saratoga Race Course
The Diana Stakes is a Grade 1 event for fillies and mares 3-year-old and up. It will be contested on the turf track at Saratoga over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The total prize purse for this year’s race is $500,000.
The top horse in the field for Saturday’s race should be Lady Eli with a Horse Racing Nation rank of No. 6 to go along with an 8.78 rating. Trained by Chad Brown, this 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare would be my top choice, too, after coming off a big win in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita Park in late May. Going back to August 2014, she has finished first or second in 11 straight races, including a second-place run in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
This pedigree of Divine Park has been one of the top turf horses over the past three years, and the 1 1/8 miles distance seems to suit her running style the best.
Another probable entry for the Diana Stakes from Brown is Antonoe. She is a bit further down the list as an unranked 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly with a HRN rating of 6.77, but I still like her chances to be right in the mix on Saturday. Following a victory this past April in a 1 1/16 miles allowance race at Keeneland, she went on to win the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont on June 10 at a distance of a mile.
After racing at a mile distance for most of her career overseas, Brown has Antonoe on a path to race in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Sired by First Defence, she has a progeny that goes all the way back to racing greats Unbridled and Seattle Slew.
Brown could be going for the trifecta sweep with Dacita as his third possible entry in the main event at Saratoga. This 6-year-old mare has finished in the money in six of her last nine events, including a victory in this race last year. She is coming off a disappointing six-place run her last time out at Belmont in the Grade 2 New York Stakes at a longer distance of 1 1/4 miles, but this followed a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes at that same track over 1 1/16 miles in her only two races this season.
Ranked 12th by HRN with a rating of 8.4, this pedigree of Scat Daddy has already had a very successful racing career at Saratoga, and I like her chances to keep things going with another strong run on the turf this Saturday.Talk Horse Racing Betting In Our Forum