SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- A field of 10 older fillies and mares was drawn Wednesday for Saturday's $500,000 Diana, at least one of whom will achieve a career milestone by posting her first Grade 1 win.
Unbridled Humor, perfect in four career starts, will break from the rail under regular rider John Velazquez. She'll be joined, in post position order, by Justaroundmidnight (Joe Bravo), Dyna Waltz (Edgar Prado), Zagora (Javier Castellano), Bay to Bay (Alan Garcia), Aruna (Ramon Dominguez), Aviate (Julien Leparoux), Giants Play (Rajiv Maragh), Mekong Melody( Alex Solis), and Romacaca (E.T. Baird).
Zagora has come the closest of the group to winning a Grade 1, having finished second in Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup last October, chasing home only Harmonious when making her U.S. debut.
Aviate is a Grade 2 winner, but disappointed in her lone U.S. appearance at the Grade 1 level when finishing sixth as the 3-2 favorite in the Just a Game.
"Twenty-Five and one, Fifty and two, One Fifteen and two," said Bill Mott when asked why Aviate ran so poorly in the Just a Game after having rallied to a 1 1/2-length victory in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs. "Those fractions are a good indication of the amount of give in the ground that day. At least, that's the excuse I'm giving her. She was just flat last time."
Ice Box returns to action Friday
Ice Box, winless since rallying to a nose decision in the 2010 Florida Derby, will return from a nine-month vacation to top a field of six in Friday's third race, a third-level optional claiming test to be decided at 1 1/8 miles over the main track. Ice Box underwent knee surgery shortly after finishing fifth last October in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup and then had his return further delayed by a series of what trainer Nick Zito described as "minor interruptions."
"It's a tough race to come back in, just like a stakes, but this is Saratoga and these types of races are always tough," Zito said. "But this is what we've got to do, get him started somewhere. We think he's fit enough to start back around two turns, and even if he needs one, he's Ice Box and he'll run his race. Right now, I'm not thinking about anything beyond Friday. If he runs well, then we'll start talking about our options."
Ice Box will break from the rail and faces a field that includes the multiple graded stakes-placed Convocation, Grade 3 winner Ron the Greek, Grade 2 winner Anak Nakal, Wilkinson, and Northern Giant.
Wilkinson, winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte in January and the lone 3-year-old in the field, underwent throat surgery for an entrapped epiglotis following his disappointing performance in the Ohio Derby.
"We think that caused him a little bit of a problem, so now we're here and basically looking to get him back to where he was," trainer Neil Howard said.