07/25/2012 4:57PM

Saratoga: Zagora targets repeat in Diana Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Zagora will be going for a repeat victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Two of the six horses entered Wednesday for Saturday’s Diana will walk over for the race side by side after leaving the barn of trainer Chad Brown. But only one of those two fillies, defending champion Zagora, will actually run in Brown’s name in the Grade 1 turf fixture.

Zagora was joined earlier this week under Brown’s shed at the Oklahoma training track by the Irish-bred Dream Peace, A Group 2 winner last summer in France and the third-place finisher in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor in her only North American appearance, which came last fall at Woodbine. Dream Peace is currently trained by Robert Collet, but will be transferred to Brown’s care on a permanent basis after the Diana.

Zagora and Dream Peace will be joined in the starting gate for the 1 1/8-mile Diana by Tapitsfly, Winter Memories, Hungry Island, and a second European invader, the English-bred Law of the Range.

Zagora gave Brown the first Grade 1 victory of his training career when rallying to a 1 1/2-length decision over Aruna in the 2011 Diana. Zagora has won three of her four starts, all Grade 3 races, in 2012, but has not started since capturing Pimlico’s Gallorette Handicap on May 19.

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“She won the Gallorette impressively, but came out of the race with a popped splint, which we needed to cool down and freeze fire,” Brown said. “She’s trained really well since I brought her back into training. At first, scheduling wise, I didn’t think I’d make the Diana, but after I brought her back, she’s worked good. She’s had four breezes total and has been galloping like a bear. Who knows, maybe the time off has done her well.”

Brown said he knows little about Dream Peace other than what he’s seen of her in films of her races.

“I’m just accommodating them with my barn and whatever they need,” Brown said. “I don’t really have anything to do with her training up until the race, but she will be staying with me afterwards.”

The Diana will feature a game of jockey musical chairs. Ramon Dominguez, who rode Tapitsfly to victory in the Grade 1 Just a Game last month at Belmont, will take the assignment on Zagora, replacing Javier Castellano who remains with Winter Memories. Castellano won the Diana for Brown on Zagora a year ago. Tapitsfly will be ridden for the first time Saturday by Joel Rosario, while Julien Leparoux is named on Dream Peace.

Awesome Feather puts in fast work

Brown also was very excited after watching undefeated Eclipse Award winner Awesome Feather breeze a half-mile in 48 seconds over the Oklahoma training track Wednesday. The move was a full second better than the next fastest work at four furlongs on the tab. Awesome Feather, perfect in nine career starts, has not run since cruising to an easy victory in Gulfstream Park’s Sunshine Millions Distaff on Jan. 29.

“She worked super,” Brown said. “She worked a half-mile and galloped out strong all by herself without company and really looked good. She’s probably ahead of schedule, where I thought she would be, at this point. I was hoping to get one prep race into her before the Breeders’ Cup, but now it looks like I could run this filly twice before the Breeders’ Cup.”

◗ Joel Rosario has taken the call aboard Endorsement for trainer Eoin Harty in next week’s Whitney Handicap, jockey agent Ron Ebanks confirmed Wednesday. Endorsement is coming off a disappointing performance in the Suburban Handicap, but rebounded with a very impressive five-furlong work over the main track here Monday.