09/10/2016 6:03PM

Diadura toys with disaster en route to Lassie win


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Diadura cornered into the homestretch with so much momentum that she barely seemed to notice her near-disaster at the three-sixteenths pole. The tiny hole a couple paths off the rail at which jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. aimed Diadura suddenly shrank to a seam narrower than horse-width, but even a stout bump with Princess La Quinta to her inside could not slow Diadura, who sprinted clear of the mess and went on to a 5 1/2-length victory in the $75,000 Lassie.

“The outside horses started to come over, and that’s when it got really tight,” Marquez said, “but it didn’t bother her at all. She’s a really nice filly.”

Diadura won her debut Aug. 5 and now is 2-2 for trainer Mike Stidham, though in both her starts she has gotten an excellent setup. On Saturday, rail-drawn Royalty Princess blew out of the gates and set a blazing pace, going her first quarter-mile in 22.07 and her opening half in 44.95, wind-aided splits that still were far, far too fast.

Royalty Princess and her nearest pursuers already were slowing at the three-furlong pole and, by then, Marquez and Diadura had found their best stride, and Diadura, bet down to a 3-2 favorite, was much the best Saturday. She paid $5 to win and ran seven furlongs on Polytrack in 1:25.10, her final 13.10-second furlong into a strong headwind. Benner Island, also near the back in the early going, finished a distant second, three-quarters of a length in front of R Naja.

“She’s very talented, and she showed that from the start,” said trainer Mike Stidham, who also sent out R Naja to a solid showing. “The sky’s the limit for her.”

Diadura, owned by Empyrean Stables and Two Princesses, is by Hard Spun and out of the Five Star Day mare Daytime Promise. Stidham said the filly had trained well enough on dirt before coming to Arlington to point her that direction rather than switching to turf, and if Diadura works to her connections' satisfaction at Keeneland, she is likely to start there in the Alcibiades Stakes.

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