SARATOGA SPRINGS – The superfecta in the Grade I Diana consisted entirely of horses trained by Chad Brown on Saturday.
And, somehow, that wasn’t even the surprising part.
Brown saddled four of the six horses in the field, and they finished 1-2-3-4, respectively, but it was the longest shot on the tote board among them, In Italian, who finished first.
Not only that, but In Italian won the Diana in track-record time as Joel Rosario quickly guided her to the lead and never looked back.
Remarkably, Brown’s domination of the filly and mare turf division has never been more fully on display in a single race, despite the fact that he had won this race six times, including five straight from 2016-20.
And the best of his current bunch, Regal Glory, didn’t even run on Saturday, as she waits for the Fourstardave later in the meet.
In Italian, coming off a third to Regal Glory in the Just A Game on Belmont Stakes Day, was 6-1 on the morning line for the Diana and went off at 8-1, but if her victory surprised the betting public, Brown could see it coming, based on In Italian’s recent training pattern.
Rosario hustled In Italian to the lead and controlled the pace through a quarter-mile in a sparkling 22.45 and the half-mile in 45.83, fended off a challenge from stablemate Technical Analysis (Jose Ortiz) as they straightened out in the homestretch and held her off by 1 1-2 lengths while polishing off a mile and an eighth on the Mellon Turf Course in 1:45.06.
Hard Not to Like set the previous course record in 1:45.22 while winning the 2015 Diana.
“I instructed Joel to just try to make the break,” Brown said. “I’m hearing, ‘He’s going,’ and ‘He’s going’ … I said, ‘You’re going.’ And that’s it. Just go, and don’t worry about it. If you give her a little breather down the backside, fine. She’s going to run the race of her life today, and she sure did. We had a good feeling.”
Brown’s other two Diana horses, Bleecker Street and Rougir, made their customary late moves from the back of the field, but In Italian never came back.
Bleecker Street finished third, a length and a half behind Technical Analysis, while suffering her first career loss from eight starts, and Rougir was fourth, a neck behind Bleecker Street.
It’s typical for Brown to start multiple horses in the top stakes in this division, and in fact he went 1-2-3 in the 2019 Diana.
The dime superfecta for Saturday’s Diana paid a whopping $8.37.
The early fractions may have seemed on the too-fast side, but Brown remained confident throughout the race that In Italian would be able to carry her speed for the entire nine furlongs.
“I was looking toward the rear,” he said. “I knew Technical Analysis was in a cozy spot. I figured the two horses [Dalika and Creative Flair] couldn’t chase her, from their form, and I felt good about Technical Analysis maybe having the jump on Rougir and Bleecker. But sure enough, In Italian just found another gear, as she has in the morning recently.”
Morning training hours at Belmont Park has been when and where Brown has seen the potential for the Peter Brant-owned In Italian (he also owns Bleecker Street and co-owns Rougir) to come up big in the Diana.
“She’s worked with Regal Glory recently, two or three weeks at Belmont, and I’ve been so impressed with her not letting Regal Glory by her, who’s regarded as the top mare in the division, maybe just slightly over Bleecker Street,” Brown said. “Her not letting her by in the work and finishing up on even terms, not giving an inch, really showed me that that’s the way she wants to run and that she’s ready for a top effort.
“We’re so lucky to have so many great horses in the division, and when you can work them together and start to really put them in different situations in the morning drills, I can see when they’re in peak form and identify their preferred way to run. She ran her work today.”
“It looked like she had the speed on paper,” Rosario said. “It looked like there were other horses with speed, too, on paper, but Chad told me to let her break and go on into the first turn and she put herself forwardly placed. She was nice and relaxed in front and ran a big race.
“It looked like she was going very easy. It looked like she was enjoying everything and it was easy for her. She was able to turn loose going for home and just took off again.”
“The winner freaked out,” Ortiz said. “She went to the lead, relaxed well, and that filly’s been working lights-out with Regal Glory.
“Yeah, I thought at the top of the stretch I could get her, and she rebroke, and that was it.”
“She had a little too much to do,” jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said of Bleecker Street. “They never came back to her. They kept on going. It was a fast race.”
With such a deep roster of turf fillies and mares, it would seem reasonable for Brown to do what he can to spread them around to various races.
But his barn is so strong in the division that the best competition out there isn’t actually out there, it’s within.
So he said he has no reservations about loading up in a race like the Diana.
“He caught the first four spots, right? He’s got the best fillies in America,” Jose Ortiz said. “This one’s got speed, Technical Analysis has speed, the other two come from the back and he’s got Regal Glory, so he’s loaded.”
“They separate each other if you run them together,” Brown said. “So sometimes you run a bunch in a race and they say, ‘Well, he’s got a lot of horses in this race.’ My approach is I’d rather run the horses against each other and let them settle it on the track than starting to cherry-pick horses to pick who’s running and who’s not, and then a bunch of what-ifs if I had run the one that I didn’t run.
“This day, it worked out this way. We’ll see if some of them meet in the future, and maybe they’ll turn the tables. We’ll see.”
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Categories: At The Track, Sports