Gamely is Diamond Diva's Turn to Shine

Gamely is Diamond Diva's Turn to Shine
Photo: Benoit
Wilshire winner Diamond Diva takes on Precious Kitten and Rutherienne in the Gamely Breeders' Cup.
English import Diamond Diva, impressive winner of the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) on opening day of the Hollywood Park meet, faces the biggest challenge of her career when she takes on grade I winners Precious Kitten and Rutherienne in the $250,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup (gr. IT) on the Inglewood turf May 26.

Trainer James Cassidy knows he's aiming high with Three Chimney Racing's 4-year-old daughter of Dansili, but she has done nothing wrong in her first two U.S. starts, both victories on the grass in Southern California.

"I just hope they don't go too slow early," said Cassidy, who fears the filly could get rank if there is no pace to settle behind, which appears likely. "As far as moving up to a grade I, the competition is supposed to get tough."

Just five are entered in the 1 1/8-mile Gamely, with Precious Kitten and Rutherienne, the co-top weights at 123 pounds, likely to battle for favoritism.

Diamond Diva, who carries 117, has never run this far in her 14 lifetime starts. But she has excelled in her two tries at one mile in this country, prompting Cassidy to give it a try.

"I hope the extra eighth won't be a problem," he said from Santa Anita. "The key is to get her to relax."

In the Gamely, she'll be reunited with Mike Smith, who was aboard her in the American Beauty Handicap in her stateside debut at Santa Anita March 30, a race she won easily by 1 3/4 lengths after making an early bid. She scored from mid-pack in the Wilshire, charging from mid-pack while wide to win by three-quarters of a length. She completed the mile in 1:33 1/5.

Cassidy expressed concern over the filly's last work, six furlongs in 1:11 at Santa Anita May 19 under Smith. "It was a little fast," he said.

Rutherienne, who rarely runs a bad one, won Keeneland's 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) in her last start April 12 at odds of 6-1, defeating Precious Kitten, the favorite who finished fifth. The Virginia Kraft Payson homebred comes into the Gamely with back-to-back victories in graded races, as she also took the Frances A. Genter Stakes (gr. IIIT) last December. She also captured the nine-furlong Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) last August.

The 4-year-old Pulpit filly has won nine of her 11 career starts for trainer Christophe Clement while earning $744,975. Corey Nakatani, who was aboard for the Del Mar Oaks score, replaces regular rider Garrett Gomez.

Lael Stables' Precious Kitten, trained by Bobby Frankel, probably needed the Wiley effort, her first start since November when she ran away with the one-mile Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) on the Hollywood Park turf. She also owns a grade I win at the Gamely distance, securing the John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar last August.

Previously raced by her breeders, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, the 5-year-old Catienus mare had an outstanding season in 2007 with four wins and four seconds in nine starts and more than $1 million in winnings. She has earned $1,425,688 in her 20-race career, which includes seven wins and and eight runner-up finishes.

The late-running Lavender Sky seeks her first graded victory after three placings in grade II races for trainer Dan Hendricks. The 4-year-old Mt. Livermore filly regressed a bit last time, fading to last while well backed in the eight-horse Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita April 19.

In her first start in a year for trainer Ben Cecil, the 5-year-old Solva finished sixth in the Santa Barbara, though she was just 1 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Foxysox.

$250,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. I, Race 3, 2:20 p.m.), Fillies & mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Diamond Diva (GB), 117, Mike E. Smith
2. Lavender Sky (KY), 117, Alex O. Solis
3. Precious Kitten (KY), 123, Rafael Bejarano
4. Rutherienne (KY), 123, Corey S. Nakatani
5. Solva (GB), 117, Victor Espinoza

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