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.

“Dacita loves Saratoga and she knows where the wire is,” Brown said. “The first quarter there they were rolling along. I know they tried to slow it down some but it really set the tone for the race that someone from behind, or in mid-pack at worse, was probably going to have the best run. Irad was patient and worked out another great trip for Dacita, and she timed it just right.”
Irad Ortiz Jr, who would later be fined $1,000 for his liberal use of the stick on Dacita [CHI] in the stretch, was to the point. “She’s a nice filly. I got the perfect trip while saving ground. She came from last and came running at the end.”

Recepta, who won the De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga last year for Phillips Racing Stable and trainer Jimmy Toner and finished second last out in the Just a Game Stakes (I) at Belmont, just missed her Grade 1 crowning moment, finishing ahead of Rainha Da Bateria, who is also trained by Chad Brown. In fourth was Graham Motion trainee Miss Temple City, followed by Strike Charmer, Onus, Mrs McDougal, Isabella Sings, Sandiva [IRE], and Wekeela [GB].

Top photo of Dacita [CHI] courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese