January 31, 2023

Bleecker Street leads Brown quartet in Diana; Pletcher sends Forte, Major Dude to Sanford

Bleecker Street wins the New York Stakes (Photo by Joe Labozzetta/Coglianese Photos)

A premiere event for turf distaffers, the $500,000 Diana (G1) heads a pair of graded stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

Diana (G1) – Race 8 (5:03 p.m. ET)

Four-time leading Saratoga trainer Chad Brown will be well-represented in the Diana, sending out four of the six contestants in the 1 1/8-mile turf affair. Unbeaten Bleecker Street is the top draw following her rallying half-length win in the June 10 New York (G1) at Belmont Park.

Since making her career debut last August at Monmouth Park, Bleecker Street has reeled off seven consecutive wins, including four graded stakes. The gray four-year-old daughter of Quality Road will be piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr.

French Group 1 scorer Rougir, a convincing winner of the Beaugay (G3) two back in her 2022 opener, is the other big gun for Brown. She faltered as the odds-on choice in the New York, checking in fifth in the 1 1/4-mile event, but the chestnut four-year-old is eligible to appreciate the cutback in distance. Flavien Prat retains the mount on the French-bred.

Grade 3 winner In Italian, third to Regal Glory in the Just a Game (G1) last out, and recent Gallorette (G3) romper Technical Analysis round out the Brown quartet, and both runners should guarantee a solid pace.

Creative Flair, last seen taking the Balanchine (G2) at Meydan in late February, invades for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. Grade 3 winner Dalika, runner-up in the June 5 Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs, completes the field.

Sanford (G3) – Race 10 (6:13 p.m. ET)

Forte, a smashing 7 3/4-length debut winner at Belmont on May 27, and impressive first-out Monmouth maiden scorer Major Dude provide Todd Pletcher with a strong 1-2 punch in the $175,000 Sanford (G3) later on the 11-race program.

A full field of 12 juveniles is set for the six-furlong event, and Pletcher will be seeking to pad his record of eight Sanford wins. The Hall of Fame conditioner won last year’s edition with Wit.

Forte, a $110,000 yearling purchase by Violence, earned a commendable 89 Brisnet Speed rating winning under wraps as the 3-5 chalk last time. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides the dark bay stalker. Major Dude, who commanded $550,000 as a yearling, split foes to win going away by 3 3/4 lengths as the 3-5 favorite, and John Velazquez will be back up on the Bolt d’Oro colt.

Andiamo a Firenze netted a field-best 93 Speed figure crushing New York-bred rivals wire-to-wire in the slop at Belmont in early June, and Jose Ortiz takes over for his brother on the Speightstown colt for Kelly Breen. Curly Jack, the first winner for freshman sire Good Magic, will look to show speed for Tom Amoss and Tyler Gaffalione.

Mo Strike and Roman Giant invade for Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen following sharp maiden tallies at Churchill, Mo Strike winning at first asking on June 19 and Roman Giant rolling wire-to-wire on June 30.

Other runners include Tremont (G3) third Valenzan Day and last-out maiden winners Boppy O, I’m Wide Awake, and Prove Right.