And four of those 11–all entered the the 6-horse Diana–are trained by Chad Brown. (See Eclipse Award-winning John Scheinman’s account of the Grade 1 on the HRI homepage).
Lost in the Diana hub-bub is the fact that the G2 Saratoga Special attracted a field of five. Wasn’t Saratoga once all about racing juveniles? And it’s a Grade 2.
The thing of it is while there are several promising yongsters in here, no one horse would scare anyone away from competing.
The two best horses, as far as we can see, are the two fastest. Be Your Side, who owns a narrow figures margin over Cucina. Either has has significant edge over the other three youngsters.
Hard to tell from the video who might be better. By Your Side (5-2) appears to have a little more brilliance and the better post of the two, the #5 slip on the far outside.
We’re giving the lean, and the call, to Cucina (8-5). First, with two starts he has an experience edge and has run over different surfaces, wet and dry, Gulfstream and Belmont.
He overcame trouble to break maiden at Belmont and after a ragged start seemed to rate professionally on the turn before launching into the lane. Cucina is the shorter price but we expect they will be closer to each other at post time.
We’re taking Cucina to win, not knowing if we will be betting. (The price of Qurbaan saved us money Friday; longshot First Premio, not so much.
Champion turf mare Sistercharlie (8-5) is one of the four Chadsters in the Diana. We love the mare but I’ll let her beat me.
The race comes down to two of three remaining Chads, although Bill Mott, who like Brown has won four Diana’s, has a good puncher’s chance with the streaking Mitchell Road (8-1), a viable upsetter.
Both Brown’s above have extraordinary chances. Neither one has lost this year, and Rushing Fall (9-5) is 2-for-2 at the trip. Homerique (5-2), while lacking the same proven class, has more upside, has won going longer and shorter, and is the better price.
Further, Homerique exits the key New York Handicap that has produced two winners since June and she gets six pounds from her top-class tested mates.
Not taking lower than 2-1, but she’s our win play.
YESTERDAY: Qurbaan rallied between horses and finished third. First Premio, bet down late from the 23-1 we took with several minutes to post, was 9-1 when his odds appeared on the backstretch, performing as if totally outclassed and finished off the board. In his defense, his stretch trip wasn’t the smoothest–but it did not cost him a placing.