07/27/2006 12:00AM

Edge to Sweet Talker in Diana

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The $500,000 Grade 1 Diana Stakes lost two of its major players this week, but it didn't lose its competitiveness as a solid field of seven was entered in the Grade 1 race for fillies and mares at Saratoga.

Gorella and Karen's Caper were held out of the race by trainers Patrick Biancone and Bobby Frankel, respectively, but the two horsemen have entered others who they believe are equally as capable. Biancone will run Lady of Venice. Bobby Frankel put in Argentina.

Bill Mott, who won last year's Diana with Sand Springs, entered three and will decide whom to run based on course condition. My Typhoon and Wend will run if it's firm. Angara, who finished third in this race last year for Biancone, will only run if it's soft.

The horse to beat in the Diana, though, is . Trained by Graham Motion, Sweet Talker has won 7 of 10 starts on the turf, including the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup last October at Keeneland. She has run three times this year, winning the Dahlia at Laurel, the WinStar Distaff Handicap at Lone Star, and finishing second to the Japanese sensation Dance in the Mood in the CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park.

Her recent travels don't appear to have affected her, and her ability to lay close or even set the pace should suit her well in the Diana. Ramon Dominguez will come in for this ride.

"I think she's proven she belongs taking a shot in the Grade 1," Motion said. "I don't think the mile and an eighth is an issue. My biggest concern is she's had a couple of pretty tough races with a fair amount of travel involved. Having said that, she's handled that very well. She's a tough little filly."

could be dangerous as the main speed in the field. She is a multiple graded stakes winner and took the Grade 3 Honey Fox in front-running fashion earlier this year. She is coming off two disappointing efforts. Wend broke slow when fourth in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill. Mott did not have much of an excuse for Wend's fifth-place finish in the All Along Breeders' Cup at Colonial.

"She was laying second turning for home, then I can't really tell you what happened," he said. "We're a little puzzled."

Asked if John Velazquez would send Wend to the lead, Mott said, "If she breaks well enough, we'll let her do it."

may be one of the must underrated turf fillies in the country. She has won 5 of 11 starts and comes off a solid victory in the Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill.

"Her last race was to me maybe one of her best," Mott said. "She galloped out strong. She rated well and looked like she got the trip off that one."

Lady of Venice will try to become the seventh 3-year-old filly to win the Diana since the race was switched to turf in 1973, joining the likes of Perfect Arc, Glowing Honor, Wild Applause, De La Rose, Glowing Tribute, and Lightning Lucy. Lady of Venice has won four consecutive races and unleashed a powerful closing kick when winning the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill.

"This is a new level for her, but I think she's up to it," Biancone said.

Sabellina, a New York-bred who has been competitive in open company, completes the field.

The field

Diana Stakes
Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles, turf; Grade 1

PPHORSEJOCKEYWT.ODDS
1SabellinaJ. Castellano 11830-1
2AngaraF. Jara1209-2
3ArgentinaE. Prado1185-2
4Sweet TalkerR. Dominguez1207-2
5WendJ. Velazquez1206-1
6Lady of VeniceJ. Leparoux1133-1
7My TyphoonC. Velasquez1186-1

* Odds by Art Gropper
* Television: Saturday, 5-6 p.m. (Eastern), ESPN