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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Top international trainer Charlie Appleby sent out stablemates Althiqa and Summer Romance for Saturday’s $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, where they repeated their 1-2 finish from last month’s 1-mile Just a Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.
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Exactly as she did in the Just a Game, Summer Romance and jockey Luis Saez went straight to the lead while Althiqa took back and watched from afar. And just as it played out downstate on June 5, Summer Romance nearly made every pole a winning one until proving unable to stave off Althiqa in the late stages.
While she was ridden by Mike Smith last time out, Althiqa took Manny Franco across the wire first by 3/4 of a length over her fellow Godolphin homebred, completing the 1 1/8-mile good inner turf route in 1:47.65.
“I just wanted to wait as long as I could because I knew the distance was further than the last race,” Franco said. “That was the question, but she did it. They didn’t tell me much. They just told me to cover her and follow somebody until I made my move. I think that was the key – that she was so relaxed behind horses – and then she gave me a nice move and nice kick.”
Final fractions were :23.57 for the opening 1/4, :48.17 for the 1/2, and 1:11.84 for 3/4 of a mile. Summer Romance was the 2.7/1 favorite; Althiqa the fourth choice at 3.95/1.
She was good but she got beat,” Saez said. “I feel like she ran her race. I knew the 4 (Vigilantes Way) had speed and was going to go with me, but that was the race.”
La Signare rallied to take third over Harvey’s Lil Goil, while behind them came Pocket Square, Magic Attitude, Vigilantes Way, and Lemista to complete the order of finish.
Althiqa’s win was her fourth in a stakes and improved the 4-year-old Dark Angel filly’s record to 11-6-2-3 with $741,213 earned.
“Summer Romance didn’t take the rematch with Althiqa, but what I realized with Althiqa with all the time she’s been with us, she’s becoming stronger physically and mentally. Summer Romance is a lot more of a nervous filly,” Appleby assistant Sophie Chretien said. “It’s a great feeling. It’s my first time coming to America and you don’t know the tracks, but these horses are smart. You just have to listen to them.”
Althiqa returned $9.90 to win, $4.50 to place, and $3.50 to show. Summer Romance brought back $4.10 to place and $3.10 to show. La Signare paid $6.50 to show.
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