Lady of Venice Takes Tougher Road in Diana

(from Saratoga release)
Trainer Patrick Biancone could have entered his improving 3-year-old filly Lady of Venice in Friday's restricted Lake George (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga but opted instead to put her in a much tougher spot – Saturday's $500,000 Diana Handicap (gr. IT) for older fillies and mares.

That means the veteran French trainer Biancone will run his hard-knocking 4-year-old filly Gorella, also nominated for the Diana, in the Beverly D. (gr IT) on the Arlington Park turf Aug. 12 instead. Martin S. Schwartz owns both fillies.

Lady of Venice, a 3-year-old daughter of Loup Solitaire who will be ridden by the hot French apprentice Julien Leparoux, gets into the Diana with a feathery 113 pounds. She comes into the Diana off a victory in the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on June 17 and faces six rivals Saturday.

"I have owners who spend a lot of money getting quality horses, and it is my job to not only put those horses in races where they can win, but to get value as well," Biancone said. "Lady of Venice already won a grade 3, so there was nothing really to gain by running in the Lake George. It is much better for her and for her career as a broodmare to run third in a race like the Diana than to win the Lake George."

Lady of Venice is also a lightly raced horse who may just be approaching her best races. A winner of four of five starts, she faces her toughest assignment by far in the Diana. She gets a seven-pound break from high weights Sweet Talker and Wend.

Trainer Bobby Frankel, a two-time Diana winner with Starine in 2001 and Tates Creek in 2002, will go with Wildenstein Stable's Irish-bred Argentina. Although winless in five starts this year, the 4-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells comes in off a troubled third in Belmont Park's New York Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on June 24.

Trainer Bill Mott has entered three here: Angara, My Typhoon and Wend, although Angara will likely run in the Beverly D. unless the turf comes up soft for the Diana.

Wend tries to make amends for her fifth-place showing in the All Along Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs a month ago. She began the year with a pair of graded stakes wins. My Typhoon won the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Churchill turf June 17.

Mott won last year's Diana with Sand Springs, and is an eight-time leading Spa trainer.

Courtlandt Farms' Sweet Talker saw a four-race winning streak halted on July 1 when she ran second in the CashCall Mile (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park. Trained by H. Graham Motion, the 4-year-old Stormin Fever filly has trained extremely well at Fair Hill, Md.

Not scared off was trainer Joe Aquilino, who will go with Jay A. Lieberman's New York-bred Sabellina. The 5-year-old Langfuhr  mare got up to win Belmont Park's restricted Mt. Vernon Handicap on June 18 by neck, but more importantly, he has won two of three starts on the Saratoga turf.

"We know this is a very tough race; it always is," said Aquilino, a former New York City firefighter. "Of course, she has been running in New York-bred races, and this is the first time we're going to try to tackle open company in a grade 1 race. But she really loves it up here. It takes her a few days, but she gets to where she really loves Saratoga. We have one of those portable pens for her, and she bucks and kicks and rolls around and gets a chance to get over her aches and kinks."

$500,000 Diana Handicap (gr. IT, Race 8, 5:12 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sabellina (NY), 118, Javier Castellano
2. Angara (GB), 120, Fernando Jara
3. Argentina (IRE), 118, Edgar S. Prado
4. Sweet Talker (KY), 120, Ramon A. Dominguez
5. Wend (KY), 120, John R. Velazquez
6. Lady of Venice (FR), 113, Julien R. Leparoux
7. My Typhoon (IRE), 118, Cornelio H. Velasquez