Saratoga stakes previews featuring Grade 1 Diana

In Italian heads to track for 2022 Diana at Saratoga (Photo by Josh Chicorelli)

By Jarrod Horak

Opening weekend at Saratoga features four graded stakes races including the Grade 1 Diana. Chad Brown has owned the Diana in recent runnings and he has 80% of the field this year. The Diana, Kelso, and Sanford will be run on Saturday, July 15, and the Quick Call is on the docket for Sunday, July 16. 

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Grade 1 Diana – Race 4 – July 15

Chad Brown trains 4 of the 5 entrants in this 1 1/8 miles turf affair for fillies and mares, and he saddled the winner in 6 of the last 7 renewals. In Italian (GB) was his Diana winner in 2022 and she is back to defend her title. She is the 2-5 morning line favorite and looks like the controlling speed. The 4-time Grade 1 winner is a strong win contender at low odds. 

Marketsegmentation is 5-for-7 and looks like the biggest threat to her stablemate In Italian. The versatile filly captured her last three turf route stakes starts and continues to get better. She will probably stalk the pace under Jose Ortiz. 

Whitebeam (GB) made short work of her rivals as the strong favorite in the Gallorette (G3) on May 20, and that was a productive race. Runner-up Sopran Basilea (IRE) returned to capture the Robert Dick Memorial (G3) on July 1, and show finisher Bipartisanship (GB) took the PTHA President’s Cup at Parx on June 18. She fired in both starts in this country for Chad Brown and will probably stalk the pace from the outside post under Flavien Prat. 

Fluffy Socks got back on the beam with a smart off the pace victory at nearly 5-1 odds in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on May 6. That snapped a 7-race losing skid and was her first start since October 2022. She has always been a decent closer for Chad Brown and she landed the place in 2 of 3 local starts.   

Fev Rover (IRE) exits a strong win on yielding turf in the Nassau (G2) at Woodbine. Mark Casse’s filly won the Grade 2 Canadian at this distance last summer. Check out my G1 Diana video below.

Grade 3 Kelso – Race 9 – July 15

This contest at one mile on the inner turf course features an interesting matchup between stalking favorite Annapolis and classy closer Casa Creed. The former won his career debut in a turf route at Saratoga in 2021. Last year at the Spa, he was second in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby and first in the Saranac (G3). He ended his 2022 campaign with a win in the Grade 1 Turf Mile at Keeneland and an unplaced effort in the BC Mile. He prepped for this with a head victory as the favorite in the Opening Verse under the Twin Spires on May 4, and he should get the jump on his main rival. 

Casa Creed has started four times at Saratoga. He captured the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) in 2019 and the Fourstardave (G1) last summer. He also landed the show in the Fourstardave in 2020 and 2021. He took back-to-back runnings of the Jaipur (G1) in 2021 and 2022, and landed the show in that event last month. He drilled a local training track bullet for this on July 7 and will try to get involved late under Luis Saez. 

Big Everest wired the field in his last four turf routes and figures to show the way early. He might not be alone on the front end. Mid Day Image stretches back out in distance after running quality races in his last three sprint starts for David Jacobson. He should attend the pace.

Filo Di Arianna also has early speed. He set the pace and missed by a neck in the Poker (G3) last time, and went all the way in the Connaught Cup (G2) and King Edward (G2) at Woodbine last summer. 

Anaconda is relatively consistent and his stalking style should lead to a decent trip. He got up late to win the Elusive Quality by a nose at Belmont on May 6. He might offer wagering value.

English Bee and Ice Chocolate, a pair of 20-1 outsiders, round out the turf entrants. Gun It is a main track only entrant. He exits a sharp optional claiming dirt sprint win at Belmont and is listed at 3-5 on the line for dirt purposes.   

Grade 3 Sanford – Race 10 – July 15

Ten juvenile males will dash six panels in this opening weekend fixture. Gold Sweep is the 3-5 morning line favorite for Steve Asmussen. The $285k Speightstown colt stalked the pace and missed by a neck in his bow, and ran off the screen as the strong favorite in the Tremont last time. The early developer figures to stalk the pace from an outer post under Jose Ortiz. He should make short work of this group if he is able to run two alike.  

Irad Ortiz Jr. has ridden the winner of this race four times since 2014, and he pilots Call the Calvary this year. Ken McPeek’s Florida-bred Khozan colt was solid in his Belmont debut from the inside post, but he will have to run much faster to threaten this deeper cast. 

Yo Yo Candy finished a clear, distant third in the Tremont last time. He adds blinkers and might be able to get a piece of this at a price. 

Dickens was a $20k bargain purchase last year and he earned $36k in his debut victory at Gulfstream Park on June 10. He will probably impact the pace. 

Jive, Factor U and Me In, Ramming Speed, Triple Trea, His Rights, and Market Street round of the field. 

Grade 3 Quick Call – Race 9 – July 16

A dozen sophomores entered this 5 1/2 furlong turf dash in the final opening week stakes race, and two are main track only. They were off the turf on Friday and more rain is in the forecast, so don’t be surprised if this race ends up on dirt. 

Eye Witness might be the one to beat if this race stays on turf. Wesley Ward’s colt missed by a neck in his bow and won his last three starts. The $650k purchase owns early-pressing versatility and Jose Ortiz stays put. 

Gaslight Dancer is the tepid 7-2 morning line favorite for Mike Maker. He was right there in all four turf sprints and figures to stalk wide from post 10. 

William Walker winner No Nay Hudson, recent maiden winner Kigali, Dr Oseran, Two of a Kind, Charging, Briterdayzahead, Son of a Birch, and dirt sprint stakes winner Uncashed round out the turf entrants. Joey Freshwater and Acoustic Ave are the two main track only runners. 

Uncashed might be the target if this race is transferred to the main track. Larry Rivelli’s fleet gelding easily went all the way in 4 of 5 dirt sprints. He was geared down in a dazzling wire job in a stakes race at Prairie Meadows on May 20. 

Are you interested in more Saratoga content? Check out the links below:

Saratoga track profile and post position stats

Saratoga 2023: Owners to watch

Saratoga 2023: Trainers to watch

Saratoga 2023: Jockeys to watch