December 1, 2023

Brown trainees A Raving Beauty, New Money Honey and Sistercharlie square off in Diana

A Raving Beauty and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. prevail in the Just a Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Saturday, June 9, 2018 (c) Bob Newell/

German-bred A RAVING BEAUTY has gone two-for-two since joining trainer Chad Brown’s shedrow, and on Saturday the gray mare will try to complete a stakes hat trick in the $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1) on Saratoga’s opening weekend.

A field of seven was entered in the nine-furlong grass contest, including A Raving Beauty and two more Brown pupils. The Mastercraftsman five-year-old closed out her 2017 campaign overseas with a runner-up effort in the Premio Lydia Tesio (Ity-G1) on October 29. She reappeared May 12 at Belmont Park for Brown and captured the Beaugay Stakes (G3) by three lengths. A Raving Beauty followed up last out on Belmont Stakes Day, June 9, with a three-quarter length victory in the Just a Game Stakes (G1). Both of those efforts came under Irad Ortiz Jr., who retains the mount on Saturday.

Multiple Grade 1 queen NEW MONEY HONEY returned a winner on June 21 at Belmont Park, taking a grassy allowance/optional claimer by a neck under regular rider Javier Castellano. That snapped a three-race losing streak that began when Brown switched the turf-loving filly to the main track for a try at the Alabama Stakes (G1). New Money Honey actually ran fifth on that occasion, but has proven her love for the green with wins in the 2016 Breeder’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and last year’s Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1). Now back on the turf, the Medaglia d’Oro four-year-old could add another Grade 1 to win to her resume.

Group 3 winner and Prix de Diane (Fr-G1) runner-up SISTERCHARLIE just missed by a neck to New Money Honey while making her stateside debut in the Belmont Oaks last year, completing a Brown exacta in the race. That would prove to be her final start as a sophomore but the bay lass returned in style on April 14 at Keeneland to take the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) by 2 1/4 lengths. She just missed by a head in the New York Stakes (G2) last out, and retains the services of jockey John Velazquez.

PROCTOR’S LEDGE sandwiched a half-length win in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day between an eighth-placing in the Jenny Wiley and a runner-up effort in the Just a Game. The Brendan Walsh-trained four-year-old began the season with a head second in the Hillsborough Stakes (G2), and will try to upset the Brown applecart in this spot. The bay daughter of Ghostzapper is two-for-two at Saratoga, thanks to wins in last year’s Lake George Stakes (G3) and Lake Placid Stakes (G2), and gets a jockey switch to Jose Ortiz.

ULTRA BRAT will attempt to duplicate her last effort for trainer Graham Motion. The five-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo romped by 10 lengths in the Gallorette Stakes (G3) at Pimlico on May 19, one race following a supbar 10th in the Jenny Wiley. The bay mare began 2018 with a win in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) and a close third in the Suwannee River Stakes (G3). Joel Rosario, who piloted Ultra Brat to victory in the Christiecat Stakes two years ago, will be in the saddle.

HAWKSMOOR is seeking a return to the winner’s circle after running second in three of her last five efforts. The Irish-bred daughter of Azamour kicked off her 2017 season with a pair of wins in the Beaugay and New York Stakes for trainer Arnaud Delacour. She then ran seventh in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) at Arlington before suffering a streak of seconditis in the First Lady Stakes (G1), Matriarch Stakes (G1) and Dahlia Stakes. That latter contest opened the bay mare’s five-year-old campaign on April 21 at Laurel Park, and she enters the Diana off a one-paced fifth in the May 26 Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park. Regular rider Julien Leparoux has the call.

Completing the Diana field is former claimer and stakes debuter WAR CANOE.