07/25/2013 3:49PM

Darby Dan home to four Diana winners

Courtesy Darby Dan Farm
Darby Dan Farm is home to four Diana S. winners: (left to right) Wonder Again, Plenty of Grace, Memories of Silver, Winter Memories.

The list of winners of the Grade 1 Diana Stakes, to be contested for the 75th time Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, is littered with champions and Hall of Fame members, as some of the most famed horses and humans involved in Thoroughbred racing have left their mark on the event. Among the prominent operations that have helped to write the history of Saratoga’s premier event for turf fillies and mares is Darby Dan Farm. The operation, founded by John Galbreath and currently under the care of his grandson John Phillips, campaigned four homebred winners of the Diana, all now members of the farm’s broodmare band.

Darby Dan’s four living Diana winners are Plenty of Grace (1992), Memories of Silver (1998), Wonder Again (2004), and Winter Memories (2012), a daughter of Memories of Silver who captured last year’s Diana in her final career start. Plenty of Grace was trained by John Veitch and raced in the name of Darby Dan, while the other three racemares were conditioned by James Toner and raced in the name of the Phillips family.

“The Diana is one of the most storied, marquee turf events for fillies and mares on the racing calendar, in my opinion, and it’s obviously a special race to Darby Dan with four of its winners currently residing on the farm in the broodmare band,” said Phillips, whose Darby Dan was founded by his grandfather, John Galbreath. “Our hope is that we can continue to develop those female lines to have more future success in the Diana and America’s other top races for fillies and mares. It’s now time for broodmares like Winter Memories to try and write more chapters in Darby Dan’s story.”

Plenty of Grace, a daughter of Roberto, won five graded stakes races over five seasons of racing, including the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Invitational, and placed in four others. In the 1992 Diana – then a Grade 2 event – she edged Ratings by a nose in a four-way photo finish. Plenty of Grace has gone on to produce five winners from nine starters for Darby Dan.

Plenty of Grace, out of the graded stakes-winning Key to the Mint mare Wings of Grace, hails from the same female family that produced 2004 Diana winner Wonder Again. Galbreath bred the Swaps mare Soaring, who produced Far Beyond, the dam of Wings of Grace. Another of Soaring’s daughters, Pi Phi Gal, produced Graceful Touch, who in turn begat Ameriflora, the dam of Wonder Again.

Wonder Again and Memories of Silver, both millionaire daughters of Silver Hawk, each displayed a special affinity for New York courses. Wonder Again won five graded stakes races, all at either Saratoga or Belmont Park. She finished fifth in the 2003 Diana, but avenged that result with a powerful score in the Grade 1 event the following season, romping by 5 3/4 lengths over rival Riskaverse, another standout New York-based turf female.

As a broodmare, Wonder Again has produced two winners from three starters, including Red Raven, a son of Smart Strike who is Group 3-placed in Japan.

Like Plenty of Grace and Wonder Again, Memories of Silver also hails from a long-established Darby Dan family. Galbreath acquired the mare Golden Trail, whose descendants would include sires Dynaformer, Darby Creek Road, Offlee Wild, and U S Ranger. One of Golden Trail’s daughters, the Grade 3-winning Java Moon, produced All My Memories, dam of Memories of Silver.

“Honestly, I couldn’t participate in the industry without these families,” Phillips told Daily Racing Form’s Glenye Cain Oakford in April, “because I wouldn’t have the wherewithal to acquire them independently now. In that regard, I totally acknowledge that the successes we’ve had were set up generations ago. I would not be good enough or lucky enough, probably, to do that on my own. We all have to maintain a lot of humility because as soon as we think it’s us, we’ll get brutally corrected by the horse. And it is all about the horse.”

Memories of Silver won eight stakes races, including Grade 1 triumphs in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and the Beverly D. Four of her stakes wins came at Saratoga, the last in the Grade 2 Diana, when she split horses in the stretch to win going away.

Memories of Silver has gone on to be a productive broodmare for Darby Dan, producing four winners, all stakes horses, from five starters. Her runners include Grade 3 winner La Cloche, as well as stakes winners British Blue and War Trace.

Unquestionably her best foal, however, is multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Winter Memories. The daughter of El Prado won eight of 12 career starts, seven of them graded stakes events, including Grade 1 triumphs in the Garden City and Diana. In the latter, she scored a scintillating 1 1/2- length win over Dream Peace; eventual Eclipse Award winner Zagora was third, while multiple Grade 1 winner Tapitsfly was fourth.

Retired with bone bruising in her right front ankle following the Diana, Winter Memories joined her dam in the Darby Dan broodmare band. Bred to Street Cry this year, she is carrying a colt.