07/07/2009 12:00AM

Diamond Dina will lead the way


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The brazen front-running victory by Presious Passion in the United Nations Stakes last weekend was a reminder that speed is an asset on the Monmouth Park turf course.

It is a weapon Diamond Dina is not reluctant to brandish.

Diamond Dina will be the one to catch Thursday in the $48,000 third-level optional claimer for fillies and mares on the grass at 1 1/16 miles.

The 5-year-old mare, trained by Jane Cibelli, is 2 for 3 on the Monmouth course, all pacesetting efforts. The lone defeat was a third-place finish last September in the Revidere Stakes.

She won this same third-level spot last summer and gets a repeat crack by carrying the $50,000 claiming tag.

It also is the second time this meet that she was entered for these conditions. She was scratched in early June when the race came off the turf. That delayed her first appearance of the meet until June 25, a front-running win in a $35,000 claimer.

Elvis Trujillo, the meet's leading rider, who guided Presious Passion to the U.N. victory, has the return call on Diamond Dina.

Tactically, Pastel Gal is the polar opposite of Diamond Dina. She is usually far behind in the early stages before launching her bid.

She gets some class relief here, having tackled stakes company in her last two races, closing to get fourth in the South Beach at Gulfstream Park in April and third in the Mckaymackenna at Belmont on May 30.

Joe Bravo will be aboard Pastel Gal, a 5-year-old New York-bred who runs for the Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg - the Funny Cide team.

The well-traveled Zaskar looks to get back on turf for trainer John Terranova. The 4-year-old Zaskar won a grass race in her native England before heading to the United States last summer. She took an ambitious step in her first race on these shores, the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park, finishing 10th.

Most recently, Zaskar ran with the early leaders before tiring on the synthetic surface at Keeneland. Eddie Castro will ride.

If the rain returns, Lucky Revival will be looking to pounce again. She took advantage of the off-the-turf situation last month to win a race like this in the slop.

Entered for the main track only, Lucky Revival - like Diamond Dina - is in for the tag.