07/04/2008 11:00PM

Diamond Diva re-rallies to nip Ventura

Benoit & Associates
Diamond Diva made a late surge under David Flores and narrowly prevailed.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It's never over 'til it's over, as Diamond Diva showed on Saturday in the Grade 2, $750,000 CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park.

Diamond Diva, passed at midstretch by Ventura, gamely re-rallied in the shadow of the wire and won by a nose over Ventura in a dramatic finish to the one-mile grass race for older fillies and mares.

Ventura, ridden by Garrett Gomez, moved past Diamond Diva with a furlong remaining and had as much as a half-length lead in deep stretch, but Diamond Diva would not go away, and as those two 4-year-old fillies came to the wire, Diamond Diva made a late surge under David Flores and narrowly prevailed.

"The other filly went by me by a neck, and she was like, 'Wait a minute, it ain't over,' " Flores said.

Diamond Diva ($6.60), the third choice behind Lady of Venice and Ventura, won for the third time in four starts since being imported from her native Britain by her trainer, Jim Cassidy. She is owned by Lincoln Collins's Three Chimneys Racing.

Ventura, who was coming off a win in the Just a Game at Belmont Park, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Lady of Venice, who is now winless in six starts since taking the 2007 CashCall Mile.

Diamond Diva completed one mile on firm turf in 1:34.07.

Diamond Diva got a superior ride from Flores. Flories kept Diamond Diva three wide on the first turn while forcing Ventura into a box behind horses, which caused Ventura to become rank.

As the field came into the stretch, Flores was reluctant to move too soon at the leaders, then asked Diamond Diva to go when Ventura came outside Diamond Diva. Ventura, racing on her wrong lead through the stretch, was never hit with the whip in the final yards by Gomez, who merely shook the stick at her right eye.

Zenyatta survives stiffest test

Zenyatta finally faced a test when she extended her unbeaten streak to six victories in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap.

Tough Tiz's Sis, the winner of the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes last fall, got within a half-length of Zenyatta at the finish of the Grade 1 Vanity over 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Zenyatta had won her first five races, including three stakes, by at least 1 3/4 lengths. The close finish did not concern winning trainer John Shirreffs.

"A horse can't have everything all the time," Shirreffs said. "It's important to get challenged early on before the big races, like the Breeders' Cup."

Zenyatta was last on the first turn, well behind Silver Z, who led by as many as 10 lengths and set fractions of 23.59 and 46.16 seconds. Silver Z led by eight at the end of the backstretch, but shortened stride noticeably on the final turn. Zenyatta, racing wide on the final turn under jockey Mike Smith, took the lead in early stretch and was ridden to the finish to hold off Tough Tiz's Sis.

"I could see she dug in," Shirreffs said. "It looked like Mike had it measured."

Tough Tiz's Sis encountered trouble in the stretch, having to go around Silver Z and Zenyatta.

"She had a chance to beat her if she could have gotten through," said Bob Baffert, the trainer of Tough Tiz's Sis. "She ran great."

Zenyatta, a 4-year-old filly by Street Cry, has earned $734,500 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss. The Vanity was her second Grade 1 win, preceded by the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April.

She was so heavily bet in the show pool, drawing $389,828 of $451,237 in bets, that there was a minus show pool of $69,899.

- Steve Andersen

Street Boss widest, fastest in Triple Bend

For months, trainer Bruce Headley has been dropping hints that Street Boss could get into the company of the best horse Headley has ever trained, the champion sprinter Kona Gold. On Saturday at Hollywood Park, Street Boss took another step toward reaching that rareified air by overcoming a brutally wide trip to capture the Grade 1, $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap for his fourth straight victory.

"He's got something to prove to be a Kona Gold," Headley said in the winner's circle. "But he's well on his way."

Street Boss ($3.40) was heavily favored to win his sixth race in 10 tries, but he had a roadblock in his way. When his five rivals were abreast heading around the far turn, Street Boss ended up fanned widest of all, into the six path.

Was Headley worried?

"Five, six-wide, yes sir, I was," he said. "Six-wide, it was scary. It's hard to win losing that much ground."

Street Boss, however, was simply too good. He collared pacesetter Elite Squadron with a furlong to go, then resolutely kept a tenacious Elite Squadron at bay to win by a half-length under jockey David Flores. Tropic Storm was another 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

Street Boss completed seven furlongs on the fast Cushion Track surface in 1:22.42.

Headley, who is also a co-owner of Street Boss, said Street Boss would make his next start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar on July 27.

Street Boss, 4, is a colt by Street Cry, the same sire as Zenyatta, who won the Grade 1 Vanity earlier in the day.

- Jay Privman

Hollywood Juvenile: Azul Leon romps

Azul Leon remained unbeaten in two starts by rallying for a stylish, four-length victory in the Grade 3, $106,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship for 2-year-olds.

As he did in his first start on May 8, Azul Leon ($4.20) lagged early before producing a powerful closing kick. On Saturday, though, he had six furlongs with which to work, rather than 4 1/2 furlongs, so he hit the top earlier and then increased his margin.

Azul Leon completed the distance on the fast Cushion Track surface in 1:10.88. Rafael Bejarano rode Azul Leon, a colt by Lion Heart, for trainer Doug O'Neill.

"What a beautiful horse," said O'Neill, who trains Azul Leon for owner-breeder Joseph Lacombe. "He's very professional."

O'Neill said Azul Leon would make his next start at Del Mar.

The 30-1 shot Making Dreams, who set fractions of 22.42 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.52 seconds for a half-mile, held on to finish second, a head better than Fassnacht.

- Jay Privman