It will be tempting to single Lady Eli (4-5) on exotic bets that include the Grade 1 Diana Stakes. With four Grade 1 victories and more than $2.4 million in earnings, the popular 5-year-old mare that came back last year from laminitis is worthy of being odds-on on the morning line. But Lady Eli has also been a beaten favorite in three of her last five races. Even though only five rivals will test her over the nine furlongs of Saratoga turf, they all have won graded stakes, and three of them have Grade 1 victories among their past performances. They include Antonoe (3-1), Lady Eli’s stable mate in Chad Brown’s barn. This 4-year-old used to race in France, where she broke her maiden as a 2-year-old in a Group 3 race. Antonoe follows the lead of another Juddmonte Farms horse that was shipped from Europe to take advantage of the firm turf at Saratoga. All Flintshire did was win the last two Sword Dancers. Trying to follow in those big steps, Antonoe looked strong going from worst to first on the rail to win the Grade 1 Just A Game last month on Belmont Stakes day. With four-time U.S. riding champion Javier Castellano aboard, she looks more than ready to get the job done in the Diana – even against Lady Eli. One caveat: If it rains enough to make the grass less than firm, I would switch to Graham Motion’s filly Quidura, a Grade 1 winner last fall on soft turf at Keeneland.
Play of the Day: Antonoe in the 10th race.
Saturday's Saratoga stakes race in handicap order from e-ponies.com