07/31/2010 5:57PM

Proviso outlasts Shared Account, Forever Together in three-way photo

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Barbara D. Livingston
Proviso, under Mike Smith, barely prevails in the Diana at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Mike Smith made a successful return to Saratoga and helped his old pal Bill Mott win the Grade 1 Diana for the fourth time in the last six years when he guided Proviso to a hard-fought head decision over Shared Account in a blanket finish that saw two-time defending champion Forever Together finish just another nose farther back in third.

Smith won three consecutive Saratoga riding titles from 1991 through 1993, much of his success during those years coming for Mott. Now based on the West Coast, Smith came back to New York to keep his regular seat aboard Proviso, whom he had guided to earlier Grade 1 wins in the Frank Kilroe Handicap and Just a Game.

As expected, Dynaslew set the pace in the 11/8-mile Diana with Maram stalking her through slow early fractions of 24.70 seconds and 49.41 over a firm course.  Proviso raced a bit rankly during the early stages while pinned along the hedge but Smith was able to ease her back and to the outside for clearance exiting the backstretch.

Proviso rallied three wide entering the stretch while taking her run at the leaders, gained a short advantage inside the sixteenth pole, then held resolutely to withstand late charges from Shared Account and Forever Together.

Shared Account raced near the rear of the pack, came wide leaving the final bend, and finished with a rush to just miss. Forever Together stumbled at the start, was trapped between horses and had to steady briefly turning for home, finishing willingly once clear but was not quite good enough. Dynaslew held tenaciously to the lead to deep stretch before giving  ground grudgingly.

Proviso, a Juddmonte Farm homebred, completed the distance in 1:47.04 and paid $6.40.

"She was a little rank on the first turn off the pedestrian pace but Mike was able to ease her out down the backstretch and she was able to run 'em down and hold off the closers," said Mott, who posted his 3,997th career victory.

Mott said he's unsure what will be next for Proviso.

"Whether she wants to go beyond a mile and one eighth I don't know," said Mott. "But she's already won three Grade 1's this year so the pressure is off and hopefully the rest of the year will be gravy.:

Trainer Graham Motion said he was excited but at the same time disappointed in the fact his Shared Account just got beat in the Diana.

"She's such an honest filly and she ran a great race but there's always a tinge of disappointment when you get beat like that in a Grade 1."

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said he was proud of Forever Together, even in defeat.

"It was tough for a little while to get her in high gear but she tried hard and finished strongly," said Sheppard. "he won by a head last year, lost by a neck this year. She's still pretty darn good."