With thunderclouds threatening an otherwise hot and humid Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, a slight drizzle did not damper the spirit or the stretch run of Sheep Pond Partners’ Chilean-bred Dacita [CHI], a filly who favors a firm going and got it despite the raindrops to win the $500,000 Diana Stakes (I) for older fillies and mares on the outer turf course.
Notching the second straight day of graded stakes victories for Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer Chad Brown, Dacita [CHI] broke modestly from the six-hole in a wide-open field of proven turf distaffers, lingering at the caboose throughout the majority of the nine-furlong race. Predictably, Isabella Sings broke from the far outside quickest of all to set the early pace in a smart :22.88 for the opening quarter and :47.25 for the first half mile, and while her early advantage was largely uncontested, the presence of 12-1 Onus and 26-1 Sandiva [IRE] creeped closer along the backstretch as the former headed the pacesetter on the far turn to briefly hold down the lead turning for home.
A scramble commenced once again in the homestretch of the Diana (I), as Recepta swept past the rest followed hotly by a quickening Rainha Da Bateria to her outside and Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City to her far inside. Making a late run but with magnificent strides, Irad Ortiz Jr. tapped Dacita [IRE] several times to come on even terms with Recepta as the two hit the wire in a thrilling, virtually indiscernible photo finish.
Off as the 4-1 second choice, Dacita [CHI] tallied her second graded win of the year following victory in the New York Stakes (II) at Belmont Park and gave Chad Brown his first Diana (I) win since first winning it with Zagora in 2011. Completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.25, Dacita [CHI] has now earned almost $1 million in earnings and her first Grade 1 in the United States.
Top photo of Dacita [CHI] courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese