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Diana and Million Preview Picks as Saratoga, Colonial Open


By J. Keeler Johnson (“Keelerman”) Twitter: @J_Keelerman


The summer time racing season is
heating up on the East Coast. Saratoga and Colonial Downs are opening for
enterprise this Thursday, and each have stakes races on their Saturday agendas.


The $500,000 Diana (G1) is
the characteristic occasion at Saratoga, whereas the $125,000 Million Preview S. leads the
Colonial Downs slate. Let’s give each races a glance:


Diana (G1) at Saratoga


A stellar area of fillies
and mares will race 1 1/8 miles over the inside turf course within the Diana. 9
of the ten entrants in the principle physique of the sector are graded stakes winners,
and 4 of them are Grade 1 winners.


I anticipate #10 Chili Flag will begin because the
favourite for coach Chad Brown, who has received seven of the final eight editions
of this race. The five-year-old mare has come at hand impressively in current
begins, rattling off three straight graded wins in stretch-running fashion.
First, she closed from out of the clouds to take the Honey Fox (G3) by a neck
over Walkathon, who just lately received the Anchorage S. at Churchill Downs. Then
Chili Flag bought as much as win the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) by a neck.
Lastly, she unleashed a terrific homestretch surge to win the Only a Recreation (G1)
right here at Saratoga by half a size over 2023 Diana winner #6 Whitebeam.


In line with the Equibase
GPS chart, Chili Flag ran the ultimate quarter-mile of the Only a Recreation in an
wonderful :22.12. She’s a logical Diana win menace, however there could also be some
chinks in her armor. For starters, she’s marooned in submit 10 and dangers a large
journey on this massive area. For one more, she’s stretching out from one mile to 1
1/8 miles, a distance over which she’s but to win. And he or she’s assembly a area
and not using a ton of tempo on paper, which may make it more durable to catch up.


For all these causes, I am
going to aspect with #4 Didia to
spring a light upset. On the identical day that Chili Flag received the Only a Recreation, Didia
conquered a powerful area within the 1 3/16-mile New York (G1). In a 13-horse area,
Didia raced in fourth place early on behind stable fractions of :23.18, :47.74,
and 1:11.92 (considerably faster than within the Only a Recreation) earlier than surging her
ultimate quarter-mile in :22.60 per the GPS chart to win by 1 1/2 lengths.


Didia’s ending velocity was
spectacular given the longer distance of the New York in comparison with the Only a
Recreation, to not point out the faster tempo. Racing 1 1/8 miles towards a modest tempo
within the Diana ought to give Didia a tactical benefit over Chili Flag. Definitely
that was the case within the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf
(G2) again in January; on that event, Didia vied for command via modest
splits of :24.88, :48.62, and 1:12.01 earlier than accelerating strongly to win by a
neck. Ending in sixth place—compromised by the tempo and unable to achieve enough
floor down the lane—was Chili Flag.


So there you’ve gotten it. If #9 Evvie Jets and Whitebeam vie for
early supremacy, I envision Didia slotting in behind them, monitoring the tempo in
third or fourth place. Assuming the tempo is modest, Didia can take first
run on the leaders and outkick Chili Flag down the Saratoga homestretch.


Million Preview S. at Colonial Downs


I will not attempt to beat the
favourite within the Million Preview, a 1 1/8-mile steppingstone to the Arlington
Million (G1). #4 Integration merely appears
too powerful whereas dropping in school.


I do not imagine Integration
has gotten a good probability to win any of his three begins this yr. Within the
Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), he did not get the clearest run whereas ending
fifth by 1 3/4 lengths towards a deep area. Within the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1), he
was compromised by settling behind a gradual tempo over a yielding turf course he
probably did not look after; even nonetheless he rallied for third place towards
Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Grasp of The Seas. One other moist course got here
Integration’s means within the Outdated Forester Bourbon Turf Basic (G1), the place he raced
behind a gradual tempo earlier than closing floor to complete fourth by 2 1/4 lengths.


Hopefully Integration
catches a agency turf course for the Million Preview, although the early climate
forecast means that’s an iffy proposition. However regardless, dropping in school
must be enough to yield victory. Integration went 2-for-2 at Colonial
Downs final yr, trouncing a 1 1/16-mile maiden particular weight earlier than taking
the 1 1/8-mile Virginia Derby (G3) over eventual three-time Grade 1 winner Program
Buying and selling. For good measure, Integration ended the yr with a five-length rating
within the 1 1/8-mile Hill Prince (G2) at Aqueduct, the place he ran his ultimate furlong
in a terrific :10.85 to beat future Pegasus World Cup Turf runner-up I am Very
Busy.


I nonetheless imagine Integration
has the expertise to be a critical middle-distance turf horse, and I am optimistic
he’ll get again to his successful methods within the Million Preview.


Now it is your flip! Who do you
like this week?

*****

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J. Keeler Johnson (also referred to as “Keelerman”) is a author, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing fanatic. A terrific fan of racing historical past, he considers Dr. Fager to be the best racehorse ever produced in America, however counts Zenyatta as his all-time favourite.



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