Brown Enters Five of 10 Starters in Saratoga's Diana


Photo: Coglianese Photos/Walter Wlodarczyk
Chili Flag wins the Just a Game Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Trainer Chad Brown has placed his stamp on most of the graded turf stakes in New York.

That is particularly true of the Diana Stakes (G1T).

In recent years, it's much easier to ask when Brown didn't win the 1 1/8-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares as opposed to when he did.

His runners have captured the Diana seven times in the last eight years and on eight occasions overall.

The likelihood of him adding to those glittering stats seems rather good as in the July 13 edition of the $500,000 stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Brown will send out five of the 10 turf entrants.

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"It's a diverse group because there aren't a lot of options right now that make sense for these high-caliber horses. We'll see how the race looks in terms of weather and other factors as we get closer to it," Brown said.

Of the five, the one in the best form would be Chili Flag . Owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Michael Kisber, and Michael Caruso, the 5-year-old daughter of Cityscape  has won her last three starts, a trio of mile turf stakes capped by a half-length victory in the June 7 Just a Game Stakes (G1T) at the Spa, when she beat five of her Saturday rivals.

Chili Flag, who will break from post 10 with Irad Ortiz Jr., won the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2T) and Honey Fox Stakes (G3T) prior to her initial grade 1 score in the mile Just a Game.

"She's coming off a really nice win," Brown said.

Brown said that Chili Flag as well as Fluffy Socks  and Coppice  can answer some pertinent questions about their ability to win a grade 1 stakes at nine furlongs.

Fluffy Socks, a homebred 6-year-old Slumber   mare owned by Head of Plains Partners, exits an impressive 7 3/4-length triumph in the Gallorette Stakes (G3T) at Pimlico Race Course. The $1.26 million earner was fifth in last year's Diana.

Juddmonte's Coppice was the 3-2 favorite in the Just a Game but never posed a serious threat and finished sixth.

"Coppice was disappointing last time. I'm really not sure what happened. Maybe an early middle move between horses midway on the backstretch made her unhappy. For whatever reason, once she got in that position, she dropped the bit turning for home," Brown said about the 4-year-old homebred daughter of Kingman  . "So I am not really sure of what to make of that race because her first race in the United States (a second in the Distaff Turf Mile) was very good."

The distance should pose no problem for Juddmonte's homebred Whitebeam , who won last year's Diana. The 5-year-old Caravaggio  mare was second by a half-length to Chili Flag in the Just a Game.

"She is rounding into form nicely. This is her third race of the year and it could be her best," Brown said.

Peter Brant's Gina Romantica  was fifth in the Just a Game, just 1 3/4 lengths behind Chili Flag. Only beaten a length when fourth against males in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T), she was seventh in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T), her only other 2024 start.

"Maybe the race in the Breeders' Cup took more out of her than we thought," Brown said about the grade 1-winning Into Mischief   mare. "What I will say for her is that she has run well at Saratoga in the past and she has been a second half of the year type of horse."

While Brown has numbers on his side, the Diana figures to be anything but a layup for his quintet. Not with Merriebelle Stables and Resolute Racing's Didia  in the field.

A 6-year-old Orpen  mare, she took charge in the stretch to win the New York Stakes (G1T) June 7 at the Spa, while racing a slightly longer 1 3/16-mile distance. Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, she started this year by winning the Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational Stakes (G2T) and then was third in the Jenny Wiley.

"Hopefully she keeps doing it the way she has been doing it," Correas said.

Trainer Graham Motion is hopeful the added distance will be beneficial for Mission of Joy , a Kitten's Joy filly who rallied from sixth at the eighth pole to finish third in the Just a Game, a half-length behind Chili Flag.

"She got carried wide on the final turn and with a couple more jumps, she's there," Motion said about the Just a Game. "Maybe the mile is a little quick for her. She should appreciate the mile and an eighth."

Entries: Diana S. (G1T)

Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, July 13, 2024, Race 10

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/8m
  • Inner turf
  • $500,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:43 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Moira (ON) Tyler Gaffalione 120 Kevin Attard 5/1
2 2Coppice (GB) Lanfranco Dettori 118 Chad C. Brown 8/1
3 3Mission of Joy (ON) John R. Velazquez 120 H. Graham Motion 10/1
4 4Didia (ARG) Jose L. Ortiz 122 Ignacio Correas, IV 7/2
5 5Gina Romantica (KY) Manuel Franco 122 Chad C. Brown 8/1
6 6Whitebeam (GB) Flavien Prat 120 Chad C. Brown 4/1
7 7Fluffy Socks (KY) Joel Rosario 120 Chad C. Brown 15/1
8 8Neecie Marie (PA) Luis Saez 118 Robert E. Reid, Jr. 12/1
9 9Evvie Jets (KY) Dylan Davis 120 Mertkan Kantarmaci 20/1
10 10Chili Flag (FR) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 122 Chad C. Brown 9/2
11 11Venti Valentine (NY) Rider TBA 118 Jorge R. Abreu 2/1