heads-up ride by Mike Smith, Proviso struck to the lead in the final furlong and
held off a pair of challengers to win a thrilling 72nd
renewal of the
Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Proviso entered today’s race off
two consecutive Grade 1 victories at a mile – the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap
at Santa Anita in March and the Just a Game on the Belmont Stakes undercard in
June – and was looking to add a Grade 1 title at the Diana’s 1 1/8th
The Juddmonte Farms homebred
tugged at Smith as she raced in third along the rail on the clubhouse turn, but
the Hall of Fame rider was able to get her to settle under a firm hold as the
field traveled up the backstretch. Angled off the hedge following a half in a
modest 49.41, Proviso drew alongside the pacesetters on the far turn.
Put to a drive nearing the
furlong marker, Proviso claimed a narrow advantage over Dynaslew in the final
sixteenth, then held off late the charges of Shared Account and Forever Together
to prevail by a head, with Shared Account edging out two-time defending race
winner Forever Together by a nose for second. It was an additional head back to
fourth-place finisher Dynaslew, who was a neck ahead of Maram in fifth.
“To come back to Saratoga and win a Grade 1
is awesome,” said Smith, who won the Spa riding titles from 1991-1993. “It
wasn’t a big field but it was an extremely talented field, and she got the job
done. I knew it was going to be a tough race, and that no one was going to draw
off and win it easily because they were all too good. She made a good move down
the backside and that helped us win the race.”
Proviso, the 5-2 second choice in
the field of seven, returned $6.40 for a $2 win wager and covered the 1
1/8th miles over the Mellon Turf Course in 1:47.04. A 5-year-old
daughter of Dansili, she earned $300,000 to boost her bankroll to $1,465,473 and
improved her record to 8-3-5 from 21 starts.
Winning trainer Bill Mott – like
Smith, a member of the Hall of Fame – is unsure where Proviso, who finished
third in a Group 1 in France in 2008, will race next.
“Whether we want to go beyond [1
1/8th miles], I don’t know,” said Mott. “She’s run at a mile and a
quarter before and been effective, but we’ll have to sit down and decide whether
we’ll want to take the next step. At this moment, I don’t think we have decided
where we’ll go. We’ve won three Grade 1s this year, so I suppose the heat is
off. Hopefully the rest is just fun and gravy.”
Phola and My Princess Jess
completed the order of finish.