English-bred mare Proviso won her third consecutive grade I race July 31 at Saratoga, as she held off Shared Account and two-time defending titleholder Forever Together in a blanket finish to take the $500,000 Diana Handicap (VIDEO) under Mike Smith.
Entering off narrow wins in the March 6 Frank Kilroe Handicap (gr. IT) at Santa Anita and the June 5 Just a Game Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont, Proviso was barely good enough once again for trainer Bill Mott, who took over conditioning the Juddmonte Farms homebred after she shipped to the United States from Europe last fall. A disqualification in her first U.S. start—the Juddmonte Spinster (gr. IT) last October at Keeneland—is the only thing separating the 5-year-old daughter of Dansili from four grade I victories in six starts here.
Proviso received an ideal trip under Smith, stalking the pace closely in third while longshot Dynaslew
set the pace and Maram
raced just behind the leader. Dynaslew carved out reasonable fractions with Eibar Coa aboard, going :24.70, :49.41, and 1:12.91.
When they turned for home Proviso inched closer to the front from a three-wide path and finally took over from a stubborn Dynaslew in deep stretch. But it was Shared Account and champion Forever Together, who had won this race by slim margins the past two years, that were now the biggest threats from the outside. Both rivals fell just short at the wire.
The photo showed that Proviso defeated Shared Account by a head, with Forever Together another nose back in third. It was only a head back to Dynaslew in fourth. The final time for 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf was 1:47.04.
"It wasn’t a big field but it was an extremely talented field, and she got the job done," Smith said. "I knew it was going to be a tough race, and that no one was going to draw off and win it easily because they were all too good. She made a good move down the backside and that helped us win the race.”
Proviso, who is out of the Woodman mare Binche, won for the eighth time in 21 lifetime starts. In Europe, she was a two-time group III winner. Overall, she has earned $1,465,473.
"Whether we want to go beyond (1 1/8 miles), I don’t know," Mott said. "She’s run at a mile and a quarter before and been effective, but we’ll have to sit down and decide whether we’ll want to take the next step. At this moment, I don’t think we have decided where we’ll go. We’ve won three grade Is this year, so I suppose the heat is off. Hopefully the rest is just fun and gravy.”
Sent off as the favorite in a field of seven, Proviso paid $6.40, $3.90, and $2.90. The exacta (1-6) returned $71.50 and the trifecta (1-6-4) was $145.50.
Forever Together, the champion grass horse in 2008, has now lost six consecutive races since winning last year's Diana.
“She ran well," trainer Jonathan Sheppard said. "It was tough for a little while to get her in high gear, but she tried hard and finished strongly. She won by a head last year. She lost by a neck this year. She's still pretty darn good. I'm proud of her.”
Maram was fifth, followed by Phola, and My Princess Jess.