Equibase Analysis: Powerful Field Lined Up For G1 Diana Stakes

The 79th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Stakes is part of a magnificent opening weekend race card at historic Saratoga Race Course. Six horses are entered but three of them would be marquee horses on any race card. Leading that trio is multiple grade 1 stakes winner Lady Eli, coming off another gutty win in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes in California. Antonoe and Dickinson finished first and third, respectively, in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes last month, with Dickinson previously having won the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes this spring at Keeneland. The other three fillies aren't without a chance to win either. That group consists of 2016 Grade 3 Valley View Stakes winner Quidura, 2016 Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks winner Harmonize and 2016 Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks winner My Impression.

Antonoe began her career with a strong six and one-half length win in a field of 13 during the summer of 2015, winning a group 3 stakes in France in only her second start. Sent to post as one of the favorites in the Group 3 Prix Marcel Boussac Stakes on Arc de Triomphe day in the fall of 2015, she only managed a seventh place finish. Her 2016 campaign as a three year old wasn't much at all, with third, 12th and 11th place efforts before being sent to the barn of Chad Brown in the states and given eight months off. With Lasix for the first time in her April, 2017 debut, Antonoe rallied fast from seventh in the early stages to shoot away and win by two lengths. Less than two months later, in the Just a Game Stakes, the filly showed an even better turn of foot getting the last quarter mile in 21.2 seconds while earning a career best 113 Equibase Speed Figure and making up four lengths in the last eighth of a mile. With improving to do in her third start of the year, Antonoe is the one to beat in this year's Diana Stakes.

There's little to be said about Lady Eli that hasn't been said before, with the mare having won eight of 11 career starts, four of them grade 1 stakes including the Gamely Stakes in California in her most recent start. The 115 she earned in the Gamely is tied (with Dickinson) for the best figure earned by any Diana entrant this year. Lady Eli earned 122 and 120 figures in two of her three races last year and with her only two losses in the past eight months having been by inches, it is certainly possible this very talented mare can rise to the occasion once again for a win. However, her best last quarter mile fraction of 22.6 is a bit slower than Antonoe and so it might be hard to hold that one off in the stretch in this race.

Dickinson has won five of seven turf races, including three graded stakes in a row this year before a third place finish, beaten three-quarters of a length, behind Antonoe in the Just a Game Stakes in June. Capable of running the last eighth of a mile in under 11 seconds as shown in the Suwanee River Stakes this past February (with a career best 115 figure), Dickinson continues to show a lot of talent and is not without a chance to rebound to winning form.

The other three Diana entrants look just a cut below the top three. Harmonize won the Del Mar Oaks last summer with a career best 109 figure but is winless in five races since and was a non-threatening fourth in the Just a Game last month. Quidura won the Valley View Stakes last fall but even with a career best 108 figure in the Jenny Wiley Stakes this past spring was not threat to either Dickinson or Lady Eli. My Impression won the Commonwealth Oaks last September then two races later earned a career best 105 figure winning the Winter Memories Stakes but is winless in four races since.

My Selections:
Lady Eli

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