October 3, 2023

Skye Diamonds eclipses Constellation in Rancho Bernardo

Skye Diamonds, now five-for-six on the year, promises to be a major player in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint back at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

With Del Mar hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the first time this year, the $100,000 Rancho Bernardo (G3) has greater resonance for the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), and 4-5 favorite Skye Diamonds served notice in Sunday’s renewal of the 6 1/2-furlong dash.

Famously claimed for $40,000 out of a rallying victory at this track and trip last August, the Bill Spawr filly has now gone on to win six of her ensuing eight starts. This term, her lone loss came when stretching out from the one-mile Dream of Summer to the 1 1/16-mile Adoration (G3). Even there, she was beaten only a half-length by Vale Dori.

Otherwise, Skye Diamonds has been unbeatable in 2017, and she entered the Rancho Bernardo off a new career high in the Great Lady M (G2) at Los Alamitos, where she defeated La Brea (G1) winner Constellation and reigning Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champion Finest City.

Perhaps Constellation would prove a tougher nut to crack in the Rancho Bernardo, her second start back from a break? Or maybe Bendable, victorious in her Desert Stormer (G3) reappearance, could offer a serious challenge?

Bendable put herself in a difficult tactical position by bobbling at the start, but Constellation worked out a textbook trip. Prompting the pace set by 24-1 longshot Rockport Babe through splits of :22.46 and :45.26 on the fast track, Constellation disposed of her turning for home and edged away.

Meanwhile, Skye Diamonds had been reserved just behind the leaders, and appeared to come under a ride in an effort to maintain her position on the far turn. But regular rider Tiago Pereira didn’t have any concern. As soon as she had clear sailing straightening up, the First Dude filly leveled off, battled Constellation into submission, and edged away. Skye Diamonds crossed the wire 1 1/4 lengths clear while clocking 1:15.95.

Bendable made belated headway for third, 3 1/4 lengths adrift of Constellation. Munny Spunt was fourth, and Rockport Babe trailed in the five-horse field.

Bred by Dizney Double Diamond in California, Skye Diamonds was originally campaigned by Donald Dizney, who also bred, raced, and stands her sire, First Dude, in Florida. The chestnut won twice for trainer Mike Machowsky, in state-restricted maiden and allowance company, but failed to factor in two stakes attempts in the 2015 Blue Norther (over a mile on turf) and the 2016 Evening Jewel.

Thus she was dropped in for a tag, and Spawr swooped in. Skye Diamonds now races for Allen Racing, Bloom Racing, Tom Acker, and Jon Lindo, and her resume reads 16-9-4-0, $509,150.

Out of the Johannesburg mare Exonerated, the four-year-old hails from the extended family of Australian Group 1 winners He’s No Pie Eater, Hurricane Sky, Umatilla, Al Maher, Platinum Scissors, Manhattan Rain, and most notably, track star-turned-top sire Redoute’s Choice. Skye Diamonds descends from their branch of the fantastic family of Best in Show, her fifth dam.

Quotes from Del Mar

Winning trainer Bill Spawr on Skye Diamonds: “She was blocked on the rail, they had her pinned in there and I was worried if she would get out in time. Once she got out, though, she’s amazing. She just wants to win. Wants to beat you. She overcomes things. And these are good fillies she’s running against.”

Winning rider Tiago Pereira: “We had to look for a good spot to position her, but I felt confident all the way around. When I asked her to run in the lane, she was there. She’s a nice one and she ran really well today.”

Jockey Flavien Prat on runner-up Constellation: “Good race for her; good trip. In the stretch, when I was on the lead, I thought I was going to get there. But that other filly came running.”

Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith on third-placer Bendable: “She did a belly flop out of there. Then she couldn’t really catch up.”