The 2017 Diana Stakes was never going to be a surefire play on Lady Eli. Antonoe and a slew of other stiff competitors were trying to upset the would-be champion, and the field pushed the eventual winner to her absolute limits. It was an absolute scorcher of a race which not only proved Lady Eli’s quality, but also legitimized two other turf females in the process.
Quidura led through much of the race as a 7/1 outside shot with 7/2 Dickinson stalking right behind. My Impression also tested the top ranks, sitting in third with heavily touted Antonoe sitting in fourth at 5/2. The lead pack hit fractions of :23.59, :47.51 and 1:11.46. Lady Eli was right behind as the 4/5 favorite…and wouldn’t dissapoint.
Stampeding around the outside to match the frenzied pace set by Quidura, Lady Eli broke around the edge and tried to pull away. Surprisingly, Quidura wasn’t having it, and matched the favorite stride for stride down a hellacious stretch. Antonoe attempted to break through on the rail but jockey Javier Castellano seemed to let up on the reigns as they approached the wire, knowing he didn’t have the room or the pace to win out. Lady Eli would stretch out to barely win as Quidura came in second.
Trainer Chad Brown was obviously elated that she not only rose to the challenge, but overcame the downright gritty efforts of Quidura. “Today was one of her greatest races to date. Maybe her best,” Brown told the media. “Giving eight pounds to the horse she ran down late in the stretch after breaking through the gate, going a little wide. She just overcame everything. Today she proved she’s one of the all-time greats. It was her determination. Proud she didn’t hang there in the end. She’s always drove past another horse, as long as she can see them.”
The news on Antonoe, a hopeful breakout star in the 2017 Diana Stakes, didn’t seem optimistic and even Brown said that seeing a competior let up is, “Never a good sign”. Recent news has confirmed that Antonoe was played safe by Castellano which will end up being a smart decision. It’s obvious she has the speed to compete. Whether she has the will remains to be seen.
With the 2017 Diana Stakes win, Lady Eli paid out $3.90, $2.70, and $2.10. Quidura was worth $5.10 and $3.10 and5-2 Antonoe brought $2.60.
This win is what Lady Eli needed after losing to Queens Trust in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. It’s a reminder that she is not in a league of her own. Quidura will most definitely have the attention of both the oddsmakers and horse players, while Antonoe will certainly be a keen horse to watch given her curious finish in the 2017 Diana Stakes. The top flight competition Europe will be bound for Del Mar and the world championships, but runs like these will have the American turf fillies (and mares) poised to make it a serious competition