Chad Brown saddled the 1/5 favorite In Italian in the $485,000 2023 Diana Stakes but it was her barnmate, Whitebeam, sent off at 8/1 that beat her a nose on the wire at Saratoga on July 15. Owned and bred by Juddmonte in the UK, it was Whitebeam’s first grade one start.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, she was understandably the least popular of Brown’s quartet of runners but provided him with a record-breaking eighth win in the race. It is the second time this strange phenomenon has occurred. Last year In Italian was the longest priced of Brown’s four Diana runners. Like Whitebeam, In Italian did not know that she was not supposed to be good enough to win. She beat her barnmates Technical Analysis (4/1), Bleecker Street (4/5) and Rougir (4/1) who finished behind her in that order by much larger margins.
In Italian, a five-year-old daughter of Dubawi, was an expensive purchase as a yearling at Tattersalls in the UK achieving a price tag equivalent to $650,000. Owned by Peter Brant and trained by Brown she has proved a great investment. Her lifetime earnings are getting close to $2 million.
Last seen winning the grade one Just A Game Stakes run over the distance of a mile on the turf at Belmont Park in early June, In Italian looked a worthy hot favorite in the Diana. She was the 1/5 favorite there too and succeeded in the style expected, easily from the front by almost four lengths. Bettors who supported her with confidence did not break a sweat.
In April In Italian scored in the Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland, another grade one on turf. She started as the heavy favorite and won by three lengths having led from flagfall. She was great as a four-year-old too, winning not just the Diana Stakes but the grade one First Lady Stakes at Keeneland in October 2022. She was sent off at 3/1 and once again beat a more popular barnmate, Regal Glory, the evens favorite who is also owned by Brant.
A month later at the same track In Italian did well to finish second from a wide draw, beaten a length in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf run over a mile and one and a half furlongs. She quickly took the lead and was only headed in the final 50 yards having drifted four wide on the final turn under Joel Rosario.
That was the last time she was beaten. Brown was delighted to get his eighth win but thought that it was sad to see her winning sequence come to an end. The Mellon Turf track was described as firm but he thought there was more give in it than ideal for her after heavy rain two days prior to the race.
Whitebeam is a four-year-old gray daughter of Caravaggio out of Sleep Walk, an Oasis Dream mare who won three minor races as a three-year-old in the UK for trainers Roger and Harry Charlton. That yard is patient with its horses and both Whitebeam and Sleep Walk did not hit the track as juveniles.
Whitebeam broke her maiden second time out in April last year and followed up with two minor wins. In her fifth and final UK start she was narrowly beaten in a listed race for fillies and mares over a mile at Newmarket in late September. She was shipped to Longchamp in France for a similar contest but over the shorter distance of seven furlongs. She started as the favorite but was unplaced, beaten four lengths. Whitebeam was unable to quicken in the soggy turf that was labeled ‘heavy’.
Juddmonte subsequently shipped her to Brown’s barn. He was disappointed when she got beat by a nose on her first start for him in another listed race, the Plenty of Grace Stakes at Aqueduct in mid April. Next time out she won the mile and half a furlong, grade three Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico on May 20. She was expected to win, starting as the 4/5 favorite and beat her closest pursuer by two and a half lengths. That result suggested she was improving but did not make her look likely to beat In Italian.
What happened in the race?
There was drama before the race started as Mark Casse’s UK-import Fev Rover (9/1) got stressed and had to be backed out of gate one and remounted by Javier Castellano. She was the only runner saddled by someone other than Brown. Fortunately all his trainees calmly watched the process with interest and waited patiently as she was re-loaded.
In Italian broke well as usual from gate two and soon took the lead under Irad Ortiz Jr, grabbing the rail. Whitebeam was quick to break too and pursued her with Fev Rover on her inside. Brown’s Marketsegmentation 7/1 was more slowly away under Jose Ortiz and found herself at the back of the pack, behind Fluffy Socks who started at the same price and tracked the leading trio.
The opening quarter was covered in 23.96 seconds. Whitebeam and the keen Fev Rover were locked together, a length and a half behind the In Italian. The gap to the fourth placed Marketsegmentation widened leaving Fluffy Socks to trail the pack three lengths behind her.
As the pack swung into the backstretch after a 48.00 second half mile Fev Rover continued to test Castellano’s upper body strength while Whitebeam traveled comfortably, not wasting energy. After a 1 minute 11.86 seconds three quarter mile Whitebeam asserted her superiority over Fev Rover as Prat asked her to quicken. She eyeballed In Italian on the final turn who held a narrow advantage until after the sixteenth pole. In Italian has a super-sized will to win and fought hard, her head held low but was so narrowly headed that a photo was needed to confirm the result.
Fev Rover rallied bravely in the stretch and took third, beaten half a length. Marketsegmentation was fourth, nearly six lengths behind her leaving Fluffy Socks to complete the finishing order, half a length behind her.
Brown is yet to disclose the next targets for Whitebeam and In Italian but Whitebeam is unlikely to be such a generously priced winner again.