The $500,000 race for fillies and mares, the first of four Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" races on the card at the Spa, features Meribel, Magnificent Song, Mauralakana, Makderah, and My Typhoon. The other entrants are Countess Scala, Danzon, and Argentina.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge races, which include the Whitney (gr. I) and Go for Wand (gr. I) handicaps, and Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes(gr. II), will be shown live on ABC television from 4-6 p.m. EDT. Winners of these four races receive an automatic birth in a corresponding race for the Breeders' Cup World Championships Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park. The Diana winner clears a spot in the $2-million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
The Diana is the first leg of a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4 and the second leg of a $100,000 guaranteed Grand Slam that begins in race six.
Meribel, a 4-year-old daughter of Peaks and Valleys, out of the Saratoga Six mare Count to Six, is coming off a third-place finish in the Dr. J. Penny Memorial Handicap at Philly Park July 4. She previously won back-to-back stakes at 1 1/16-miles on the turf at Belmont Park. The filly races as a homebred for Arthur Hancock III and Catesby W. Clay.
Magnificent Song, by Unbridled's Song—Song to Remember, by Storm Cat, hasn't won since taking last year's Garden City Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. IT) as a 3-year-old, but recently ran a good second to Quite a Bride in the Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Mauralankana is one of three in the field trained by Patrick Biancone, who also sends out Danzon and Countess Scala.
Mauralankana, a French-bred 4-year-old by Muhtahir out of the Double Bed mare Jimkana, won the Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) going the Diana distance of 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs last time out. She was fourth, beaten 6¼ lengths by My Typhoon on Belmont day in the Just a Game (gr. IIT) at Belmont.
According to a release from the New York Racing Association, Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Shadwell Stable’s Makderah, said he wouldn’t mind a soft turf course for his explosive Danehill—Wijdan, by Mr. Prospector filly.
After racing in Europe, where the grass is typically softer than on American courses, Makderah has gone two-for-three in this country for McLaughlin. She lost a second-level allowance at Keeneland in April, but came back with an impressive allowance victory at Belmont, followed by a four-length triumph June 23 in the 10-furlong New York Handicap (gr. IIT).
“We were shocked the day she ran second, to be honest,” McLaughlin said. “I guess she needed the race. It was her first start since last fall.”
Makderah will face a tougher group this time than she did in the New York, but McLaughlin could not be more enthused about the possibility of the filly winning a grade I. “She’s a special filly,” McLaughlin said. “This is a good race, but we’re very confident.”
Live Oak Plantation’s My Typhoon finished fourth in last year’s Diana to stablemate Angara. She returned to win the Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) later in the meet and has enjoyed a solid 2007 season so far with two wins and a second from three starts.
My Typhoon, by Giant's Causeway out of the Miswaki mare Urban Sea, has only won once in seven tries at the Diana distance. She led in last year’s Diana before Angara, Sweet Talker, and Argentina ran her down in the final stages.
She has not started since winning the Just a Game by 3 ¾ lengths.
Diana Stakes (gr. IT), $500,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, turf. Saturday, July 28, approximate post 4:12 p.m.
PP - Horse - Jockey
1 - Meribel - Garrett Gomez
2 - Magnificent Song - John Velazeuaz
3 - Mauralakana - Julien Leparoux
4 - Countess Scala - Alex Estrada
5 - Makderah - Alan Garcia
6 - My Typhoon - Eddie Castro
7 - Danzon - Kent J. Desormeaux
8 - Argentina - Edgar Prado