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Zagora Looks For A Repeat In The Diana; Alpha Returns In The Jim Dandy

Tapitsfly looks to continue her good run of form in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, July 28th.
Tapitsfly looks to continue her good run of form in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, July 28th.

Saturday's card at Saratoga is shaping up to be a fantastic day of racing, topped by the G1-Diana Stakes and the G2-Jim Dandy. Below is a summary of the entries and post positions for both races, along with a look at some of the top contenders in each race. Morning line odds will be added when available.

G1-Diana Stakes; Post Time: 5:12pm Eastern
PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Tapitsfly J. Rosario D. Romans 7/2
2 Law of The Range (GB) R. Maragh M. Botti 15/1
3 Zagora (FR) R. Dominguez C. Brown 5/2
4 Dream Peace (IRE) J. Leparoux R. Collet 6/1
5 Winter Memories J. Castellano J. Toner 9/5
6 Hungry Island J. Velazquez S. McGaughey 5/1
G2-Jim Dandy Stakes; Post Time: 5:45pm Eastern
PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Alpha R. Dominguez K. McLaughlin 5/2
2 Fast Falcon R. Napravnik N. Zito 10/1
3 Atigun J. Leparoux K. McPeek 8/1
4 Neck 'n Neck L. Goncalves I. Wilkes 3/1
5 My Adonis J. Castellano K. Breen 20/1
6 Teeth of the Dog J. Rosario M. Matz 5/1
7 Liaison M. Garcia B. Baffert 7/2
8 Prospective J. Velazquez M. Casse 12/1

Diana Stakes

Zagora (FR) won this race a years ago and has notched three Grade 3 wins since that victory (G3-Endeavour, G3-Hillsborough, G3-Gallorette). A major jockey change for this mare as Ramon Dominguez climbs on board after Javier Castellano rode her over the last six races. Castellano is aboard Winter Memories.

There are two very interesting European shippers in the Diana: Law of the Range (GB) and Dream Peace (IRE). Law of the Range ships in from England where she was sixth in the G2-Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Prior to that she was fourth and sixth in a couple of Group 3 events at the Curragh and Newmarket, She hasn't fared that well against group competition and would have to show some major improvement in order to challenge her rivals in this field.

Dream Peace (IRE) should be a major player in the Diana. She won the G2-Prix de la Nonette Shadwell at Deauville last August followed by a 3rd in the G1-EP Taylor at Woodbine in mid-October. She's struggled in her two races in 2012 at Chantilly and Kranji (Singapore), but she's shown enough talent in the past that it would be foolish to overlook her chances. Additionally, she's performed well over both firm and soft ground which might be important if Saratoga gets any meaningful rainfall prior to the race.

Julien Leparoux gets the call on Dream Peach and he's looking to pick up the pace after a slow start to the Saratoga meet (1-for-20).

Winter Memories is an exceptionally consistent filly and has run quite well at Saratoga in prior races (3-2-0-0). She has a tendency to get into trouble at various points of the race although she possesses the talent to get out of it most of the time. Given the depth of this field, she needs to avoid as much trouble as she can.

Tapitsfly went through a period last year where she struggled but has seemingly found new life since the calendar switched over to 2012. She's won the G2-Honey Fox at Gulfstream and the G1-Just A Game at Belmont, along with a second place finish in the G2-Distaff Turf Mile and a third in the G1-Jenny Wiley. I'm not sure a mile and an eighth is really her best distance, but she should be right in the mix when this field hits the top of the lane.

Jim Dandy

Similar to the Diana, the Jim Dandy features what looks to be a pretty evenly matched field of three-year-old colts.

Liaison ships out from California for Bob Baffert and is looking for his first win on conventional dirt since he broke his maiden at Santa Anita in October of 2011. He ran well in defeat in both the G3-Affirmed and G2-Swaps at Betfair Hollywood Park, but I get the sense that his colt is just a tick or two better on the plastic than on the dirt.

Prospective will try to carry his G3-Ohio Derby form into Saratoga but has to be considered a bit of a long shot given his repeated failures to compete against the best of his class. He's won some decent races this year (G2-Tampa Bay Derby, Victoria Park Stakes, G3-Ohio Derby), but he's struggled when facing better.

It's hard not to like the way Neck 'n Neck has developed in the early part of the summer. After struggling at Tampa and Gulfstream against this year's Triple Crown contenders, he's taken a nice step forward in his last two races at Churchill, including a huge win in the G3-Matt Winn on June 16th. Like Prospective, this colt needs to prove he can put forth a big effort against stronger competition, but you got to love the way he's moved forward in his last two races. If he can duplicate his Matt Winn performance in this spot he'll have every shot at the victory.

Alpha makes his first start since finishing a very disappointing 12th in the Kentucky Derby back on the first Saturday in May. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has put a series of solid works under Alpha's belt and he should be ready to run right off the bench.