Althiqa, Summer Romance 1-2 Again in Diana

It was a familiar scene July 17 as stablemates Althiqa  and Summer Romance  were the first two fillies across the finish line in a grade 1 race on the New York turf. 

The Godolphin pair completed the exacta in the $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1T), the first of 20 grade 1 races at Saratoga Race Course this summer. Althiqa collected her second consecutive grade 1 win over Summer Romance after taking the June 5 Longines Just a Game Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park. The fillies, both 4 years old and based overseas with trainer Charlie Appleby, have run four straight races together. Althiqua leads the win column with 3-1.

Appleby’s assistant Sophie Chretien was on hand at the Spa to celebrate the stable’s accomplishment.

“We’ve been in America since the first of May; it’s the 17th of July and we had two big targets in grade 1s and we just couldn’t do better,” Chretien said.

“Summer Romance didn’t take the rematch with Althiqa, but what I realized with Althiqa with all the time she’s been with us, she’s becoming stronger physically and mentally. Summer Romance is a lot more of a nervous filly.

“It’s a great feeling,” Chretien said of winning at Belmont and Saratoga. “It’s my first time coming to America and you don’t know the tracks, but these horses are smart. You just have to listen to them.”

Similar to the one-mile Just a Game, Summer Romance commanded the early pace under Luis Saez in the nine-furlong Diana, setting fractions of :23.57 and :48.17. Althiqa, who broke from the outside with Manny Franco in the saddle for the first time Saturday, was seventh of eight through the first quarter-mile and moved up to sixth by the half. Vigilantes Way  was a half-length off the lead in second, and Pocket Square  raced another length back in third ahead of La Signare  and Harvey’s Lil Goil . Lemista  and Magic Attitude  joined Althiqa near the back of the field.

Summer Romance, the 5-2 favorite, continued to lead through six furlongs in 1:11.84, at which point Althiqa was fifth, and a mile in 1:35.65. Althiqa was called on by Franco at the quarter pole and after turning four wide into the home stretch, she unleashed a devastating turn of foot that carried her to the lead. 

“I just wanted to wait as long as I could because I knew the distance was further than the last race,” Franco said. “That was the question, but she did it. They didn’t tell me much. They just told me to cover her and follow somebody until I made my move. I think that was the key; that she was so relaxed behind horses and then she gave me a nice move and nice kick.

“She’s a pretty nice filly. I’m glad I was on her today and thank you to the trainer and the owner.”

Althiqa crossed the wire three-quarters length the best, completing the nine furlongs in 1:47.65 on a turf course rated good. She paid $9.90 on a $2 win ticket as the fourth choice. Summer Romance was second 1 3/4 lengths over third-place La Signare.

“She was good but she got beat. I feel like she ran her race,” Saez said of Summer Romance. “I knew the 4 (Vigilantes Way) had speed and was going to go with me, but that was the race.”

Harvey’s Lil Goil was edged by a neck and finished fourth, another neck in front of Pocket Square. Magic Attitude, Vigilantes Way, and Lemista completed the order of finish.

The winning gray or roan filly, the same color as her stablemate, now has a 6-2-3 record from 11 starts and earnings of $741,213. She was a debut winner at Thirsk in May of her 2-year-old year, then returned 13 months later to win at Newmarket. She won her first stakes race two starts later at Deauville before placing in a trio of group 3 races between England and France. Althiqa began the current season at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, where she won the Jan. 28 Cape Verdi Presented by Longines (G2) and was third in the Feb. 18 Balanchine Sponsored by Range Rover (G2), won by Summer Romance.

Althiqa is a Godolphin homebred foaled in Great Britain. By Dark Angel , she is the first foal out of Mistrusting , a stakes-winning Shamardal mare. Mistrusting’s 3-year-old son Magical Land, a gelding by Frankel , broke his maiden in a handicap July 16 at Newbury and is also trained by Appleby. Before Dawn, Althiqa’s 2-year-old full sister, has been second in two of her three starts for Appleby. Mistrusting is also dam of a yearling Dark Angel colt and foaled a Kodiac  filly in March.

Video: Diana S. (G1T)

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