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Forever Together Heads Competitive Diana

Forever Together will attempt to become the first horse to win the Grade 1 Diana three consecutive years when she takes on a contentious group of fillies and mares in Saturday’s 72nd renewal of the $500,000, 1 1/8th-mile event over the Mellon Turf at Saratoga Race Course.

 

Named the 2008 Champion Female Turf Horse, Forever Together made a four-wide rally to get up by a head in last year’s Diana. She concluded her 2009 season by finishing second by a nose in the Grade 2 Canadian at Woodbine and reporting home third in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

 

Her two starts so far in 2010 have been carbon copies as she finished second to mares currently riding six-race winning streaks in both efforts. Wasted Tears held off Forever Together by a half-length in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in March, while Tuscan Evening defeated the Augustin Stable representative by the same margin in the Grade 1 Gamely at Hollywood Park in May.

 

“She’s consistently been running in Grade 1 races and the occasional Grade 2,” said her Hall of Fame trainer, Jonathan Sheppard. “If you wanted to be harsh, you could criticize her for not having enough punch, but I don’t think that’s the case. She’s been the victim of paceless races.”

 

Following her effort in the Gamely, Forever Together posted four workouts at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania and breezed four furlongs around dogs on the Oklahoma Turf Course in a bullet 59.60 Monday morning.

 

“[Monday] was her fourth morning of training here,” noted Sheppard. “I took her to Presque Isle because we had a drought on the farm. She seems to enjoy training on the Tapeta.”

 

Julien Leparoux, who missed the Gamely with a spine injury, gets back aboard Forever Together in the Diana. The 2-1 morning-line favorite, Forever Together will break from post position 4.

 

Winning the Diana for the third straight year will not be an easy task for Forever Together, however, as the top three finishers in June’s Grade 1 Just a Game – Proviso, Phola, and My Princess Jess – will meet again in Saturday’s race.

 

Proviso, a Group 3 winner in France, has blossomed since being shipped to North America. The Juddmonte homebred closed stoutly to defeat males in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap at Santa Anita in March, then stalked the pace to win the Just a Game in her most recent start.

 

“She was sitting second the last time, and she could be in that spot once again,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “Of course, each race is a little different. It’s a competitive field.”


Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will fly in from Southern California to ride Proviso, the 5-2

second choice, in the Diana. The duo will leave from the rail.

 

Phola earned her first stakes victory when she dominated the Grade 3 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs in March, and doubled her black-type tally when she made a six-wide rally to win the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs in May. Last of six early in the Just a Game after breaking slowly, she closed to finish a half-length behind Proviso.

 

“I thought she ran a big race,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of Phola’s Just a Game performance. “She was probably affected more than anyone by the slow fractions. I think Proviso is clearly the filly to beat, but we hope with a little more pace that we might be able to turn the tables.”

 

Phola, the 4-1 third selection on the morning line, drew post position 3 and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.

 

Also coming out of the Just a Game is My Princess Jess, who has won three graded stakes to date, including the 2008 Grade 2 Lake George on Saratoga’s Inner Turf Course. Cornelio Velasquez is named to ride My Princess Jess, who drew post position 2 and was tabbed at 8-1 on the morning line.

 

Shared Account captured last year’s Grade 2 Lake Placid in her lone previous effort at the Spa and enters the Diana off a one-length victory over Grade 3 winner Dynaslew in the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs in June. The top two from the All Along will be reunited in the Diana.

 

Completing the field is four-time stakes winner Maram, who is unbeaten in two starts on the turf at Saratoga.

 

The field for the Grade 1 Diana:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Proviso (GB)

M E Smith

123

W I Mott

5-2

2

My Princess Jess (FL)

C H Velasquez

118

B Tagg

8-1

3

Phola (KY)

R A Dominguez

120

T A Pletcher

4-1

4

Forever Together (KY)

J R Leparoux

120

J E Sheppard

2-1

5

Dynaslew (FL)

E Coa

118

S Benzel

15-1

6

Shared Account (KY)

E S Prado

118

H G Motion

8-1

7

Maram (KY)

J Lezcano

118

C C Brown

6-1

 

 

 

 

 

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Older Comments about Forever Together Heads Competitive Diana...

Forever Together is a great mare, with a great late closing kick. But Proviso has really been on fire of late. I like Proviso to beat Forever Together in the Diana. JMO.

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