With Sistercharlie's victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Diana at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Chad Brown equaled Hall of Famer J. Elliot Burch's record for most wins in the historic event, named for the mythical goddess, which was inaugurated in 1939.
“It's quite an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as a great trainer like him,” said Brown.
Owned by Peter Brant, defending Diana champion Sistercharlie returned from an eight-month layoff to secure a 1 3/4-length score, topping a Brown-trained trifecta that included runner-up Rushing Fall and Homerique.
Brown also captured the Diana with Zagora (2011), Dacita (2016) and Lady Eli (2017).
Burch, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980, won his first Diana in 1967 with Prides Profile and followed up a year later with Green Glade, who was elevated following the disqualification of Gamely. Glowing Tribute (1976) and Hush Dear (1982, 1983) complete his quintet of Diana victors.
Brown, a former assistant to Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, holds the Diana in high regard.
“I've been very fortunate through the years to have these fillies that are good enough to win a race like the Diana,” said Brown. “It's a race I hold in high regard and I feel very lucky for our team to have had this amount of success in this race.”
In 2002, Brown's first year under Frankel's tutelage, he worked with Tates Creek, who nosed out Voodoo Dancer for a famous score in the Diana. Tates Creek won 11-of-17 starts and more than $1.4 million in purse earnings.
“I was lucky enough to work not only with Tates Creek, but a lot of other great turf mares,” said Brown. “I learned so much working with him.”
Brown said Sistercharlie, who earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in Saturday's score, Rushing Fall, Homerique and Thais, the pace-setter, all came out of Saturday's Grade 1 event in good order.
“They've all come of the race good, so far,” said Brown.
The top-three finishers are likely to make their next start in the Grade 1, $600,000 Beverly D. on August 10 at Arlington Park. The 1 3/16-miles event contested on the Arlington Park turf is a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series Race offering a berth in the Grade 1 Filly and Mare Turf.
Brown, a three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer, maintains a bustling stable on the Saratoga backstretch. A number of his upcoming stakes hopefuls breezed on Saturday morning, including Guarana, Dunbar Road, and Looking At Bikinis.
Three Chimneys Farm's Guarana, an undefeated daughter of Ghostzapper, captured the Grade 1 Acorn last out at Belmont Park by a widening six lengths over Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. The talented filly is pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 20, a nine-furlong event on the main track for sophomore fillies.
“It was an outstanding performance. She's trained well since and she's on target for the Coaching Club,” said Brown.
Guarana, out of the Distorted Humor mare Magical World, boasts significant pedigree as her fourth dam, Maplejinsky, produced Hall of Famer Sky Beauty, who won the 1993 renewal of the Coaching Club American Oaks.
On Saturday, Guarana worked four furlongs on the Saratoga main in company with Dunbar Road, with both fillies stopping the clock in 48.77 seconds.
Brown said Dunbar Road is likely to make her next start in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama, a 10-furlong event for sophomore fillies set for August 17 at the Spa.
“She worked excellent. She'll likely train up to the Alabama,” said Brown.
The Brant-owned Dunbar Road, by Quality Road out of the Bernardini mare Gift List, has won three of four starts, including scores in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks and a last-out victory in the Grade 2 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.
Long Lake Stable, Madaket Stables, Thomas Coleman and Doheny Racing Stable's Looking At Bikinis worked four furlongs on Saturday in 50.04 on the Saratoga dirt training track. The 3-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky impressed on debut at Belmont, winning a 6 1/2-furlong maiden event on a sloppy track by 5 3/4-lengths.
Following an extended layoff, the talented bay returned on June 27 at Belmont to earn a half-length victory over graded-stakes placed New York-bred Not That Brady.
“He was outstanding. He didn't have a smooth trip in there, but he overcame it off a layoff and getting stopped a couple of times. He really showed a lot,” said Brown.
Looking At Bikinis is under consideration for the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, a nine-furlong test for sophomores on July 27, or the $100,000 Curlin, also at nine furlongs for sophomores a day earlier.
“He worked really good and is training outstanding. We're looking at either the Curlin or the Jim Dandy,” said Brown.
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