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The first Grade 1 of the Saratoga season is set to go this Saturday. The $500,000 Diana Stakes has drawn a small of seven this year, but it is not without star power. The race is scheduled as the featured 10th on a tremendous 11-race card that will highlight the first Saturday of the meet. Local post time for the Diana is scheduled for approximately 5:55 PM ET.
It wouldn’t be Saratoga without trainer Chad Brown, and he is loaded once again for both this race and the meet overall. He sends a trio of horses out here, including A Raving Beauty, an undefeated 2-for-2 since coming to the United States. His barrage also includes the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes winner Sistercharlie and the 2017 Grade 1 Belmont Oaks winner New Money Honey. Brown seems confident in all of his horses coming into the race.
The Brendan Walsh-trained Proctor’s Ledge could be the main challenger to Chad Brown’s trio. Walsh campaigned Proctor’s Ledge beautifully last year at Saratoga with a pair of graded stakes victories. Since then, she won the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs, and last time out finished a strong second in the Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes at Belmont Park. Walsh believes that she is doing very well leading up to her return to Saratoga.
The full field from the rail out: Sistercharlie, Proctor’s Ledge, New Money Honey, War Canoe, Ultra Brat, A Raving Beauty, and Hawksmoor.
#1 Sistercharlie – This filly can flat-out make up ground! We know that she will come with a run in this spot, but the key will be how close she can sit early in the race. Last time out, she dropped an eye-popping 28 lengths behind at one point, but still rallied to nearly win the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park. In her start two races back, she was still behind, but she sat only 8 lengths off the pace before easily passing rivals to win by over 2 lengths. This race seems like it should have a pretty moderate pace, which should mean that she is well within striking distance turning for home. Her stablemate, A Raving Beauty, will likely be the favorite, which means that Sistercharlie could be very fairly priced in this spot.
#6 A Raving Beauty – Since shipping to Brown earlier this year, she has been flawless. Her United States debut came in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes at Belmont Park, and she dominated to win by 3 lengths. Next up was the Just a Game last time out, and once again, she swooped by the field late to win, this time by 3/4 of a length. Shipping to Saratoga and running over this course will be a new challenge for her, but she certainly seems classy enough so far to get the job done. Brown is absolutely loaded for this race.
#2 Proctor’s Ledge – When running at Saratoga, you can never feel comfortable about throwing this horse out. Last year, she came to The Spa and took home the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes and the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes. This year, she returns to this meet running well with a win two races back in the Distaff Turf Mile and a runner up effort last time out. However, the horse that beat her in that last start is in this race here, so she will have to find a way to turn the tables on her. Still, the fact that she is 2-for-2 over the track will certainly help.
#3 New Money Honey – She cruised last time out in an obvious prep for this spot, never getting out of second gear while still winning an allowance at Belmont Park. Now, she should be fit and ready for this much tougher challenge, and there is no doubt that her back class will make her extremely attractive in this race. It is crazy to think that this filly may be Chad Brown’s third-best horse in the race, which speaks to just how deep and talented his barn can be in these types of races and shows how loaded he is for this spot. It would be no surprise at all to see New Money Honey win here.
#5 Ultra Brat – You always have to respect trainer Graham Motion on the turf at Saratoga. Ultra Brat is coming off of a nice victory last time out in the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico over a very soft turf course. That soft surface produced the best performance of her life, so it is questionable if she can repeat that type of effort on what will likely be a rock-hard turf course at Saratoga. She should be in the mix for the underneath spots, but others are a bit more appealing for the top award.
#7 Hawksmoor – At her absolute best, she can make some noise in this spot, but she must turn around her form in a big way in order to have a shot. The main problem is that she has not won in over a year, but she was always competitive up until her last two starts, at which point her speed figures took a dive. This will be her third start off of a layoff, though, so perhaps this is the race where she will put it all back together. The pace also looks like it could set up beautifully for her, as she looks to be the loan speed. If her price floats up to double-digit odds, she becomes interesting.
#4 War Canoe – This will be a tough jump up in class that she is probably not ready to handle at this point in her career. She did pick up a nice win in her last start, but she will certainly be thrown into the deep end of the pool in this, her first career graded stakes attempt.
As always, Chad Brown is loaded and ready for the first Grade 1 of the meet. SISTERCHARLIE will come with a giant run like always, and if she can position herself well early in the race she will be tough to hold off in the end. A RAVING BEAUTY is a perfect two for two since coming to the United States, and is the deserving favorite in this spot. PROCTORS LEDGE came to Saratoga last year and won twice. She is coming into this meet in great form. NEW MONEY HONEY looked solid in first start of 2018, and should be geared up for a big effort today.
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