ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown breezed a number of horses over the Belmont Park inner turf on Sunday morning, including Lemista (IRE) and Pocket Square (GB) who are both on target for the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 17 at Saratoga.
The pair of Diana aspirants worked five furlongs in company with Lemista completing her work in bullet time of 1:01.80 outside of Pocket Square, who finished off in 1:01.89.
Owned by Peter Brant, Lemista earned a 100 Beyer in her North American debut in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 8 at Belmont, finishing a late-closing second to Harvey’s Lil Goil. The 4-year-old daughter of 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass was a Group 2 winner three starts back at the Curragh over yielding going.
Juddmonte Farm’s Pocket Square, a Group 3 winner in France, was impressive in her North American debut on April 7 at Keeneland and subsequently was fifth as the lukewarm favorite in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 5 at Belmont.
“They both worked well with one another and are going to the Diana,” Brown said. “Lemista has relished the time in between her races. With Pocket Square, I’m drawing a line through the Just a Game. She was lined up so well going into that race and there were things I was hopeful she would be able to overcome, but it didn’t quite work out.”
Brown has won the Diana six times, including the past five editions with talented turf distaffers Dacita , Lady Eli  Sistercharlie [2018-19] and Rushing Fall .
On Saturday, Brown sent out Michael Ryan, Jeff Drown and Team Hanley’s Higher Truth for her stakes debut in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, finishing a close third, beaten a half-length to Santa Barbara.
Brown said the daughter of the late Galileo will target the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 8.
“I thought she ran well. I was proud of her effort,” Brown said. “It looked like she was in for a good chance late in the race and picked up a piece of it at the end. We’ll probably move on to the next leg [of the Turf Triple series].”
Higher Truth arrived at the Belmont Oaks off two starts at ten furlongs, breaking her maiden by a half-length over the inner turf on April 22 before defeating winners on June 10.
“She’s had three mile and a quarter races in a row, so she’s gained a lot of experience and fitness,” Brown said. “I think down the road, she’ll be able to run even further.”
Brown said he could have at least two fillies for the Saratoga Oaks as Rocky Sky, previously considered for the Belmont Oaks, opted to wait for the second leg.
Owned by Peter Brant, Rocky Sky is a two-time winner in her native Ireland, capturing the ten-furlong Salsabil last out on April 25.
“We thought she would benefit from more time going into the Saratoga Oaks, so that’s where she’s headed to,” said Brown.
Brown said recent allowance optional claiming winner Amy C will target the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George, a one-mile inner turf test for sophomore fillies on July 13 at the Spa.
Owned by Madaket Stable, Michael Dubb and Robert V. LaPenta, the 3-year-old daughter of Charming Thought broke her maiden in March at Deauville before shipping to North America.
“It was a nice first time from out of the country for us. It seems like she’s ready for a stakes now,” Brown said.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Chad Brown watches a workout. (Susie Raisher)