by Jerry Shottenkirk
August 22, 2020
You’d have to go to Breeders’ Cup Day to see a more compelling race than Saratoga’s Grade 1 Diana Stakes on Sunday. In fact, this is a good fillies and mares turf preview.
The 1 1-8th-mile turf race for fillies and mares has only six entrants, but the quality is off the charts. The Chad Brown-trained royalty of Rushing Fall and Sistercharlie will show up, but they will certainly have to work for it. in addition to having to outrun a stablemate, they’ll have to face the likes of the Kevin Attard-trained rags-to-riches success Starship Jubilee, the Graham Motion-trained pairing of Secret Message and up-and-comer Mean Mary, and the Christophe Clement-trained Call Me Love, who lost a photo to Starship Jubilee in her latest attempt.
The Diana is the third leg of an interesting Late Pick 4, and while the headliner has a short field, it’ll take a few numbers on the ticket to get that one. This week’s suggested play has four runners from the Diana: Rushing Fall, Starship Jubilee, Sistercharlie and Mean Mary and the cost is $54 with a 3x3x4x3 approach.
Here’s a look at the Late Pick 4 races:
Race 6 (4:09 p.m. ET, maiden claiming)
TOWERING GAZE showed a good closing move in two of three and is usable because of the interest in the stretch. There could be a speed collapse and he could benefit.
HIGH SCHOOL CRUSH has had nine changes but comes in off her best performance. He closed well and lost by a head. Don’t think this one is a career maiden; she’s been in some fast races and her day will come. Maybe today’s the day.
SILENT EMPRESS has just one start and while she didn’t make an impact, she actually was a length closer at the end than she was at first call. This is not a great spot, so significant improvement is likely.
Race 7 (4:43 p.m. ET, allowance optional claiming)
LONE ROCK was rolling at the end of her last one and just missed against PETE’S PLAY CALL. LONE ROCK’s performance was a big wakeup call and she was claimed by Robertino Diodoro. Continued improvement is very possible with this barn.
PETE’S PLAY CALL’s performance in his last start was tremendous and opened up 3.5 lengths and lasted by a half-length in 1:15 2-5. His races all down the line were very quick and he was a strong player in many of them.
MOUNT TRAVERS makes his third start off an 11-month layoff and can put up a fight. He was in stakes races last year and fits here.
Race 8 (5:18 p.m. ET, Gr. 1 Diana Stakes)
RUSHING FALL is back to a two-race winning streak after doing the unthinkable for her: Losing two consecutive races, ending 2019 on a rare note. She’s back to doing what she does best and had a repeat victory in the G1 Jenny Wiley in her latest.
STARSHIP JUBILEE has won straight and went over $1 million in earnings when she won the G2 Ballston Spa. She continues to improve and should always be taken seriously. Her beginnings were humble, but she looks as good as they come.
SISTER CHARLIE was third to STARSHIP JUBILEE in the Ballston Spa and had won six straight until losing her last two. She was 2-to-5 in the Ballston Spa and hasn’t been above even-money since her win in last year’s Diana. It’s impossible not to know her capabilities.
MEAN MARY is the new kid in town and she’s has earned this shot at the best turf distaffers. She enjoys the front end and will attempt to back up the pace. That will be a best test, especially if RUSHING FALL goes with her.
Race 9 (5:51 p.m. ET, maiden claiming)
ALLIED INVASION was a closing third in his only start and can be expected to improve.
RINGGOOD has spent all of his time in maiden special weights races and takes his first drop to maiden claiming. He was close-up in his last one and will probably last much longer in this spot. Legit threat.
NERO’S FIDDLE was fourth in both of his races and with a rider change to Luis Saez can be closer to the action early, and that makes her a contender.
Race 6) #1 Towering Gaze, #2 High School Crush, #5 Silent Empress.
Race 7) #2 Lone Rock, #6 Pete’s Play Call, #7 Mount Travers.
Race 8) #3 Rushing Fall, #4 Starship Jubilee, #5 Sister Charlie, #6 Mean Mary.
Race 9) #2 Ringgood, #3 Allied Invasion, #5 Nero’s Fiddle.
Total Ticket Cost) 1,2,5/2,6,7/3,4,5,6/2,3,5 = $54 for $0.50