June 13, 2024

Whitebeam noses out In Italian in Diana

Whitebeam wins the 2023 Diana Stakes (Coglianese Photography)

Trainer Chad Brown had strength in numbers when winning Saturday’s $485,000 Diana (G1) at Saratoga for an eighth time, but for the second year in a row it was the longest shot of his four entries who took down the nine-furlong grass prize for fillies and mares.

Whitebeam, who had won for the first time on U.S. soil in the May 20 Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico, caught odds-on stablemate and 2022 Diana winner In Italian at the wire to claim her first top-level victory under Flavien Prat. The Juddmonte homebred returned $17.60 after completing the course in 1:48.33 on ground officially rated firm.

“It was really tight there and In Italian ran her heart out. I think the turf’s pretty soft and she was going pretty quick there,” Brown said. “They ran around in a pack there and it was pretty fast fractions on this soft of a turf. Whitebeam, she also ran just a little bit better today and was able to handle the soft ground and showed a lot of heart late.

In Italian, favored at 35 cents on the dollar, was widely expected to lead all the way uncontested, but found herself in trouble when headed by Whitebeam passing the eighth pole. She fell just short of becoming the ninth filly or mare to win the Diana, a race that dates to 1939.

Fev Rover, the only horse field not trained by Brown, finished a half-length behind In Italian in third. It was more than five lengths back to Marksegmentation, while Fluffy Socks trailed throughout.

Second at Newmarket and unplaced at Longchamp in two overseas stakes attempts prior to her importation, Whitebeam has now won two straight after finishing second by a neck in her U.S. debut, the April 16 Plenty of Grace S. at Aqueduct.

“[Whitebeam] trained as good as [any] in my top handful of horses all winter at Payson Park,” Brown said. “I was shocked she got beat first time out to be honest. She trained really well and I’m just so fortunate Juddmonte sent me this horse in excellent shape – the horse was sound and the first time I breezed her, I called Garrett O’Rourke [general manager of Juddmonte] in Kentucky and I just thanked him repeatedly for sending me the horse. The first work was Grade 1 potential.

“This might be her limit [in distance] as far as what she wants to do, but she’s just a beautiful, well-bred horse; a typical Juddmonte horse. She’s always trained brilliantly.”

Bred in England, Whitebeam  has now won five of nine starts. She is by Caravaggio and out of Sleep Walk, an Oasis Dream half-sister to St Leger (G1) winner Logician and multiple Grade 3 winner Suffused.