Monday, October 13, 2008
DIAMONDRELLA WINS ANOTHER CLOSE ONE
By Francis LaBelle Jr.
Not one to short-change Belmont Park’s 5,195 fans who made her their favorite Sunday afternoon, Castletop Stable’s Diamondrella (GB) came late with Smart and Fancy and eked out a nose victory the second running of the $109,600 Xtra Heat Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs on Belmont Park’s firm inner turf course.
It was the fourth straight victory for the 4-year-old Rock of Gibraltar filly and the respective margins of those wins have been by a nose, three-quarters of a length and two necks.
Diamodrella’s only loss this year was by a head back on May 23.
In the Xtra Heat, the race changed when Meriwether Jessica and Drama Lady were scratched. Trouble Maker, who figured to be a factor up front, stumbled at the start and Sheets shot out to the lead from the rail under jockey Edgar Prado. Sheets posted uncontested fractions of 22.45, 45.12 and 56.95 on the firm inner turf course, with the portable rail set at nine feet.
She continued to fight on, but with a furlong to the finish, Diamondrella and jockey Rajiv Maragh and Smart and Fancy and jockey Cornelio Velasquez hooked up in the middle of the lane and slugged it out to the finish, with Diamondrella claiming the winner’s title in 1:08.92 for the six-furlong sprint. It also helped that Velasquez dropped his whip in the final jumps.
“On paper, it looked like a race that might play out a little funny after one of the speed horses scratched,” Maragh said. “Once I took her to the outside, she did what she had to do. She is very easy to handle and a very intelligent filly at that.”
Sheets held for third by a head over House Quest. It was another head back to Trouble Maker and three-quarter of a length to the trailer, Mohegan Sky.
Read more articles in the Belmont Park - Live category.