Diamond Diva Sparkles in Hollywood Debut

Diamond Diva Sparkles in Hollywood Debut
Photo: Benoit
Diamond Diva finishes strong to take the Wilshire on opening day at Hollywood Park.
British import Diamond Diva overcame her outside post position to register a sharp win from off the pace in the $110,800 Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) at one mile on opening day of the Hollywood Park spring/summer meet.

Sent off as the slight 3-1 favorite, the 4-year-old filly is unbeaten in two U.S. starts on the turf for trainer James Cassidy and Three Chimneys Racing.

In the short run to the clubhouse turn on Hollywood's turf course, Diamond Diva was stuck about four wide but she settled into a nice stalking trip mid-pack for jockey David Flores after finding a comfortable spot on the outer part of the course. Front-running La Tee, pushed by Unspoken Word, ensured a strong pace, and Diamond Diva, roaring into contention mid-stretch on the outside, did the rest, overtaking Kris' Sis and La Tee for a three-quarters-of-a-length victory.

"I knew there was a little bit of speed in the race," Flores said. "I was trying to save some ground into the first turn. I was four wide, but I was comfortable with where we were at."

Flores said he was fully confident in the filly's ability to run down her rivals.

"She started looking around when she got the lead, and that's when I hit her a couple of times (to get her attention)."

Second choice Kris' Sis, ridden by Michael Baze, rallied for second by 1 1/4 lengths over 18-1 shot La Tee and Martin Garcia. The Brazilian-bred Colina Verde finished fourth in the field of nine. The final time was an outstanding 1:33.21 on a firm course.

After showing good early speed, La Tee set rapid fractions of :23.15, :45.72, and 1:08.90.

"He ran a little longer than I would have liked, but that's all right," joked Cassidy about Flores' ride. "Believe me, she's a very nice filly. I don't know how good she might be, but I've been impressed with her last two races.

"She broke well and the outside post didn’t seem to be a hindrance and that was my biggest concern," he added. "She was wide pretty much most of the race until they hit the five-eighths pole and he was able to get her in. Down the lane, I thought she might win a little easier than she did, but when I saw the fractions I realized why.”

A three-time winner in her native Great Britain, Diamond Diva came off a six-month layoff to win the one-mile American Beauty Handicap on Santa Anita's grass course in her U.S. bow by nearly two lengths March 30. The consistent dark bay daughter of Dansili—Vivianna, by Indian Ridge, now holds a lifetime record of 5-4-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $247,485.

Flores missed Diamond Diva's first race in Southern California while returning from Dubai, where he rode in the World Cup program. Mike Smith rode instead.

Carrying high weight of 117 pounds, she paid $8.20, $5, and $3.80 and topped a $2 exacta worth $36.60. Kris' Sis, coming off a fifth-place finish in the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) for trainer Richard Baltas, returned $4.20 and $2.80. La Tee, a Washington-bred conditioned by Mark Glatt, was $8.40 to show.

It was three lengths to Colina Verde, followed by Unspoken Word, Honored Gold, Shermeen, Gentle Gale, and Star of Whitney.

(Chart, Equibase)

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