Lightly regarded Personal Diary took advantage of a hot pace with a sharp last-to-first move under Corey Nakatani to post a 9-1 surprise in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 23 on the Del Mar turf (VIDEO).
The final grade I event on an extremely busy Saturday day of racing from coast-to-coast, Personal Diary registered her first tally over winners while snapping an eight-race losing streak. Trainer Victoria Oliver conditions the City Zip filly for owners and breeders G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing.
Personal Diary completed the 1 1/8-mile journey over Del Mar's firm turf course in 1:47.56. She defeated the late-running Stellaris by 2 3/4 lengths, with pacesetter My Conquestadory a neck farther back in third. Sea Queen, the 7-5 favorite in the field of eight sophomore fillies, was nosed for the show spot while a disappointing fourth.
Oliver, 41, is Humphrey's daughter and the wife of trainer Phil Oliver. She has one previous graded stakes victory, that coming with Direct Line in the 2010 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park.
"She’s always been a very nice filly," Oliver said of Personal Dairy, one of eight horses she's training at Del Mar this season. "She’s had some troubled trips or she could have had a couple more wins. Today (Corey) Nakatani rode her perfect and it was her day. I thought she was good enough, absolutely. This is my first grade I and it feels great."
Personal Diary had been based at Keeneland prior to shipping to Del Mar last month. She was second in the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) via disqualification in June at Churchill Downs and had one prior start at Del Mar. The chestnut filly finished second in an off-the-turf allowance/optional claiming test by a head to Kool Kat on the Polytrack July 27.
Nakatani, who claimed his fourth lifetime win in the Del Mar Oaks, had a relaxed Personal Diary at the back of the field on the outside of a rival early on as My Conquestadory burst to the lead under Victor Espinoza. My Conquestadory attempted to go it all the way with Sea Queen, breaking from the outer gate, perched to her outside and Tepin and Famous Alice tracking.
My Conquestadory showed the way through fractions of :23.31, :46.80, and 1:11.15 before coming under full pressure from Sea Queen, who took a narrow advantage coming into the homestretch. Those two battled for the lead but Personal Diary, last rounding the final bend, made a nifty move splitting horses to reach contention in upper stretch. The smooth-striding filly took over on the outside approaching the eighth pole and left the others behind impressively under some left-handed urging.
Nakatani, who had not been riding since Aug. 10 with a severe bout of the flu, said he's feeling better.
"The race came up about the way I thought it would and my filly put me in the right spot," he said. "From there it was just a matter of making sure we did it good. She’s a nice filly and it’s going to be fun to see where she goes from here."
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Personal Diary paid $20.20, $7, and $5 as the fourth choice. Illinois shipper Stellaris, ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer Mike Stidham, came on late after dropping to seventh in the stretch and returned $10.80 and $6. The exacta came back $152.20. My Conquestadory, also third in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) last time out, paid $4 to show.
Sea Queen finished a neck better than Famous Alice, who was followed by Diversy Harbor, Odisseia, and Tepin. Istanford, who won the Sandy Blue Handicap the previous evening, and Maibaby were scratched.
A consistent type that has been running mostly in allowance company this season, Personal Diary improved her record to 2-4-2 in 10 races with earnings of $278,136.
Personal Diary is the first winner from three foals produced by the winning Tiznow mare Latest Scoop. She has a 2-year-old full sister who is yet to start.