Diana Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race

July 10, 2019 05:42pm

The first Grade 1 race of the 2019 Saratoga meeting is upon us with entries declared for the $500,000 Diana run at a mile and an eighth on the outer turf course.

The Diana has attracted an elite field of six older fillies and mare, each with at least one stakes victory.

[Related - Diana PPs - courtesy of DRF]

[Master Saratoga with DRF PPs, Clocker Reports & Expert Picks]

Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will try to win the Diana for the fifth time. He sends four into the race, including last year’s Champion Turf Female Sistercharlie, who's making her 2019 debut and in doing so will try and extend a three-race winning streak. If she succeeds, Sistercharlie will also become a winner of consecutive runnings of the Diana, joining an elite group of fillies and mares that includes: Forever Together (2008-2009), Glowing Honor (1988-1989), Shuvee (1970-1971), Tempted (1959-1960), and Miss Grillo (1946-1947).

Here is an analysis of the field with a projected morning line from Horse Racing Nation. The Diana is slated as Race 9 out of 11 with post time scheduled for 5:46 p.m. ET

1. 
Thais (FR) [ML 20-1 – Rio de La Plata – C. Brown/M. Franco – 15: 3-3-4 - $249,769] This European import for the team of Peter Brant and Chad Brown made her American debut in 2017 at Saratoga but has yet to register a stakes victory in this country. Although she is a stakes winner in France, the best she has done here is a few third-place finishes, including in the the Beverly D. (G1) in 2018. On that day, she raced on the lead but otherwise she has run from off the pace. Toss.

2. 
Rushing Fall [ML 8-5 – More Than Ready – C. Brown/J. Castellano – 9: 8-1-0 - $1,893,000] This fast filly is just a neck short of having a perfect nine-race record. Early in her career she won races from off the pace but her last three victories, which were all Grade 1s, were racing on the front end.

"The distance is about her limit but she's done it before," Brown said. "This will be the toughest race she's ever run in but she's doing really well."

Jockey Javier Castellano may choose to sit off the leader, which should be next on this list Mitchell Road. But with her versatility, Rushing Fall has to be considered a serious threat.
Win contender.

3. 
Mitchell Road [ML 8-1 – English Channel – B. Mott/Jose Lezcano – 7: 5-2-0 - $244,570] This Bill Mott runner is on a four-race winning streak that began in an Aqueduct turf allowance in December and has continued through her first graded stakes victory in the Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico in May. The 4-year-old has never finished worse than second, but in this stacked field she will come with relatively long odds. Board hitter.

4. 
Sistercharlie (IRE) [ML 3-2 – Myboycharlie (IRE) – C. Brown/J. Velazquez – 11: 7-3-0 - $2,575,603] Last year’s champion turf female makes her 2019 debut here. There has to be some concern that she is facing this top-notch field of a long layoff, but note that last year she won a Grade 1 off a nine-month break.

"She's training really well," Brown said. "I wish I had a prep race for her, but she just ran out of time, unfortunately. It's a tall order to start her back in a Grade 1, but she's a champion and she likes the course having won last year, so we're going to give her a shot."

Sistercharlie was last seen winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November by a neck with a dramatic turn of foot. She is riding a three-race winning streak.
Top choice.

5. 
Secret Message [ML 12-1 – Hat Trick (JPN) – H. Motion/T. McCarthy – 11: 5-2-0 - $327,448] This Graham Motion runner has won both of her starts this year, with the more recent being the Nassau Stakes (G2) at Woodbine on a yielding turf. Secret Message is yet another closer in this compact field. Use underneath.

6. 
Homerique [ML 7-2 – Exchange Rate – C. Brown/I. Ortiz Jr. – 8: 4-1-2 - $722,950] The Kentucky-bred filly began her career in France, where she was a graded stakes winner. The same Brant-Brown team brought her to America, and since then she has won both of her stakes starts at Belmont Park over a Grade 1-winning stablemate Competitionofideas.

"She's won shorter than this. She's won longer than this," Brown said. "She's an extremely versatile and talented filly and I expect her to run well."

The nine-furlong distance of the Diana seems ideal for her closing move.
Win contender.

Summary
: This is a small but very high-quality field of that presents an unusual challenge for handicappers who could have a hard time eliminating any of them as a potential winner.

That being said, Sistercharlie has to be considered the top choice to win the race even though she has had not run for more than eight months. She was that good last year when she won the division championship.

It would seem that Sistercharlie and Rushing Fall will vie for favoritism, while a horse like Mitchell Road, who is riding a four-race win streak for trainer Bill Mott, could possibly be fourth choice behind a trio of Chad Brown runners.

 

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