A half a million bucks are there for the taking in the Grade I, Diana Stakes. Six, fillies and mares will take on the challenge of 1 1/8 miles on Saratoga's inner turf for the eighth race on Sunday's card. There haven't been many races at the distance/surface during the current meet with just three. Two of the three captured the checkered flag with late pushes from off the pace. The typical winner was sixth after a 1/4 mile and fourth at the half.
Morning line favorite, RUSHING FALL (PP: 3 ML 3/2) hasn't been an off the pace type for most of her career. The five-year-old mare has been if in the first three at the first call in eight of her last 10 races, winning seven of 10 with two seconds and a fourth.
One of the second-place finishes was in the 2019 Diana. She held the lead in the stretch but was overcome by SISTERCHARLIE (PP: 5 ML 5/2). Trainer Chad Brown's SISTERCHARLIE will be making her second start after heading to the barn after November's Breeders' Cup Turf Mile. She was the 2/5 favorite in her last start but finished third by 1 1/2 lengths to STARSHIP JUBILEE (PP: 4 ML 9/2). Her history suggests she'll take a major step forward in defending her Diana belt and Brown win round twos at 26%.
STARSHIP JUBILEE offers horseplayers some value as she's won four straight and six of her last seven. The string of Ws was interrupted with a second in the Grade III, Cardinal Stakes at Churchill Downs. She's never missed the board at the distance with four wins, a second and third. The daughter of INDY WIND has been training well following a win in her last start, which was on Saratoga's inner turf course.
MEAN MARY (PP: 6 ML 3-1) has been blazing around turf courses, leaving most horses behind from the gate to the goal, the winners' circle. The four-year-old has four wire-to-wire victories on her resume in seven starts and another W where she was second until the 1/4 pole before moving into the lead for good. She hasn't raced since June 27th and her workouts have been blah since. Maybe she needs one before returning to sprinter form?
Here is how are handicapper lines them up and why in Pro Subscribers' Bonus Commentary:
"RUSHING FALL is coming off the highest, last race speed figure and could be better in her third start after a layoff. SISTERCHARLIE has hit the board in 10 straight and is two for two in the W column at the distance. STARSHIP JUBILEE has won six of her last seven races. She won her last despite hitting the gate at the start. MEAN MARY has won five of her six turf starts."
CALL ME LOVE (PP: 2 ML 8-1) and SECRET MESSAGE (PP: 2 ML 20-1) are our alternative picks. We'd add the rail horse to our top four in the event of a scratch but would take a pass on SECRET MESSAGE.