Trained by Chad Brown and ridden to victory by Irad Ortiz Jr., Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds' Dacita secured her second straight graded stakes win after claiming a three-quarter-length score in the New York Stakes (gr. IIT) June 10 at Belmont Park.
It was a big day at the races for Pete Bradley, who earlier on the card saw two horses he pinhooked—Bitumen and Random Walk—finish 1-2 in the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. III).
But the biggest thrill of all came when Dacita, a multiple group I winner and two-time champion in Chile, earned her first U.S. grade I win Saturday.
"It was a lot to watch. In the end it was like a replay of the Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) last year when Dacita got up the last jump to beat Tepin. Similar finish here," said Brown, who secured his second Diana victory, the first coming in 2011 with Zagora. "Dacita loves Saratoga and she knows where the wire is."
Also close was Rainha Da Bateria, who raced between the top two in deep stretch under jockey Julien Leparoux, and was in the photo at the finish. After the race Leparoux lodged an objection claiming interference in the stretch by runner-up Recepta and jockey John Velazquez, and the stewards also carried out an inquiry. They made no change to the finish.
Dacita, a 5-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy bred in Chile by Haras Paso Nevado, completed the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares in 1:46.25 on firm turf to win.
"She's a nice filly. I got the perfect trip while saving ground," Ortiz said. "She came from last and come running at the end."
The late runners certainly had some early pace to set them up as Isabella Sings broke well from the outside in the field of 10 filles and mares under Paco Lopez and led through a quarter-mile in :22.88, before slowing down some for a half-mile in :47.25 on the Mellon Turf Course. Moving into the far turn, the early leader was engaged by Onus, and soon Mrs McDougal also joined the fray. Dacita still raced last through six furlongs in 1:11.08.
The three-way battle on the front end mattered little as the closers took charge late. Phillips Racing Partnership and Pam Garlin's Recepta grabbed the lead just past mid-stretch. Recepta, a daughter of Speightstown who finished second in the Just a Game Stakes (gr. IT) June 11 at Belmont, proved game battling several foes—but Dacita mounted one final challenge as she hit top gear on the outside, and finished a nose better than Recpeta at the wire. Recepta edged Rainha Da Bateria by the same margin.
"The first quarter there they were rolling along. I know they tried to slow it down some but it really set the tone for the race that someone from behind, or in mid-pack at worse, was probably going to have the best run," Brown said. "Irad was patient and worked out another great trip for Dacita, and she timed it just right."
Dacita paid $10.20, $5.70, and $4.20 across the board, with Recepta returning $8.30 and $5.20 for the minor awards. Rainha Da Bateria paid $11.20 to show.
Miss Temple City, the 5-2 favorite under Drayden Van Dyke off her victory over males in this year's Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland, raced close in fifth throughout most of the race and finished courageously inside of the top three but had to settle for fourth, just a head back of the winner in the close finish.
Dacita earned champion 2-year-old filly honors in Chile in 2014 and was named champion 3-year-old filly in 2015.