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HomeHorse RacingSaratoga: Saturday’s Diana (G1), Kelso (G3), and Sanford (G3)

Saratoga: Saturday’s Diana (G1), Kelso (G3), and Sanford (G3)

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Chad Brown has four of the five entries in Saturday’s Grade One $500,000 Diana Stakes as he looks to send out the top four finishers for the second year in a row in a key race for older turf females. One of my favorite horses out there, #2 In Italian was made the 2-5 morning line favorite. The 5-year-old mare runs her race every time and sports a record of 7 wins 3 seconds and 1 third-place finish in 11 starts, including winning this race last year. That is the only time she has gone the Diana distance of 1 1/8 miles. She has one way of going, to the front, and no matter how much pressure she receives, no matter how fast she’s pushed, her legs never grow weary and she finishes strong through the wire.


Single In Italian and move on?


When one trainer has four entries, it’s hard to feel comfortable about putting your money into a race. Along with the four-time grade one winner, Brown enters one other mare with grade one honors in #3 Margetsegmentation (4-1). She won the New York (G1) last out going longer in front-running fashion and will likely be pressuring In Italian throughout. #4 Fluffy Socks (8-1) looked fantastic winning the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs on Derby day even though she had some trouble in the homestretch. Making just her third start since transferring to Brown’s barn from England, #5 Whitebeam (5-1) will be tasked with the longest race of her career, looking to back up her win last out in the Gallorette (G3) over two game next-out winners. 


Both In Italian and #1 Fev Rover (12-1), the lone entry walking over from a barn other than Brown’s, carried their top 4-year-old form into their 5-year-old campaign. Running a 2 on Thoro-Graph last out when winning the Nassau (G2) by four lengths over Moira, Fev Rover looks very likely to repeat that effort. (In Italian’s top effort is a 1 on Thoro-Graph.) Fev Rover has won at this distance and can handle a course with moisture, as Saturday’s Saratoga sod will surely be wet with the recent rain. If there weren’t four jockeys all riding for the same trainer who could easily pin her in on the rail, I would be interested in betting her at 8-1 or higher odds. Jockey Javier Castellano receives the assignment from trainer Mark Casse.


Scheduled as Race 4 on the 11 race card, post time for the Diana is 2:46 PM ET.




The $175,000 Kelso (G3) is headlined by two turf male standouts in #2 Annapolis (8-5) and #8 Casa Creed (5-2). Annapolis has finished out of the exacta only once in nine starts. Of her six wins, three have come at the Kelso distance of one mile, including the grade One Turf Mile at Keeneland last fall, when he beat Casa Creed by two lengths. Todd Pletcher enters Annapolis who will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., winner of four in the first two days of racing at Saratoga.


Bill Mott enters Casa Creed. The two-time Jaipur (G1) winner fell just shy of winning a third last out when the turf-sprinting sensation Caravel beat him to the punch. Sprints have proven to be where Casa Creed shines brightest but the 7-year-old seven-time winner won last year’s Fourstardave (G1) at this distance over the local course, so the distance is not an issue. 


Of the eight entered in the Kelso, five do their best running on the lead or near the front which will likely play into Casa Creed’s hands, a mid-pack type who comes with a fierce late run. I think he’ll be too short a price to play, but there is another closer in the field who will offer value and who is in the best form of his career. #7 Anaconda (6-1) was 3/4 lengths shy of winning the Poker (G3) last out, but he had multiple excuses in that one, and he galloped out in front. Trainer Joe Sharp has excellent numbers winning at Saratoga and he often wins early on in the meet. I will be backing Anaconda heavily.


Scheduled as Race 9, post time for the Kelso is 5:45 PM ET.




Of the ten green 2-year-olds signed on in the $175,000 Sanford (G3), one towers over the rest in terms of speed figures: #9 Gold Sweep (3-5). Trained by Steve Asmussen, currently one of the hottest barns in the sport, both efforts by the one-time winner have earned faster Beyer figures than any of his foes. He will be backed heavily, deservingly so, but having run a 91 Beyer last out, what is his upside? Asmussen wants the win, no doubt, but he is not one to get to the bottom of his horses early on in their careers, so a step forward is unlikely. I’m expecting a slight regression from his last effort, whereas these other colts in their first-year racing are all maturing, and could easily have progressed enough from their morning training to take on Gold Sweep. 


Most intriguing to me are #2 Jive (12-1) and #7 Triple Trea (10-1). 


Trained by Phillip Serpe, Jive was entered into the Tremont but had to scratch, and from what I hear there was nothing wrong but stewards were exercising an abundance of caution. Gold Sweep won the Tremont. It’s easy to imagine Jive stepping forward if allowed to race that day, running a figure closer to Gold Sweep, and now one month later is ready to progress once again. Junior Alvarado will pilot Jive in his second race. 


Triple Trea moved like a stakes runner when passing five foes in the homestretch of his maiden voyage. The pace could heat up in here, which could set up nicely for Luis Saez to do what he does best, finish a race. The Bolt d’Oro colt is trained by Barbara Minshall.  


Scheduled as Race 10 on the 11 race card, post time for the Sanford is 6:19 PM ET.

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