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The Streak goes on for Diamondrella in Just a Game

ELMONT, N.Y. – Castletop Stable’s Diamondrella (GB) continued her winning streak and her love affair with Belmont Park, as she took the outside path under jockey Rajiv Maragh to defeat favored Forever Together in Saturday’s 16th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Just A Game for fillies and mares on the Widener Turf Course.

Her 1 ¾-length victory, her sixth straight, came in her first start at a mile, but she handled the distance and the yielding course with aplomb. She returned a generous $21.20.

“The only thing I really panicked about was when it started raining, and raining, and raining (on Friday),” said trainer Angel Penna Jr., of Diamondrella who won for the seventh time in 15 starts. “Then, there was the matter of distance. But, when you have a good horse, it makes it easy, and she’s a very good horse. Plus, she was getting five pounds from Forever Together. The other filly is a champion -- a big, huge horse and five pounds on soft turf can make a difference. Now, after this race, I know my filly likes soft turf. As for what’s next, I’ll ask Rajiv (Maragh, jockey) what he thinks. It’s great we might have more on the horizon (than sprints). The Breeders’ Cup is an awfully long way away – we’ll look at whatever is next, and take it from there.”

Diamondrella and Maragh broke sharp and settled in seventh, as the pace, set by Raw Silk, slowed after an opening quarter mile of 23.85 and a half of 47.88 Forever Together and jockey Julien Leparoux were in traffic but close up and waited patiently for running room.

The space she needed opened up on the rail, and Leparoux deftly moved Forever Together to the hole. Maragh, however, already had his mount underway and her momentum carried her to victory in 1:36.49.

“The gates opened and she broke sharp,” Maragh said. I didn’t want her to run up early, so I kind of took hold of her right away. The pace slowed down more than I was hoping it would, but she was comfortable being in the back of the pack because there was nobody really chasing behind her, so she got real comfortable and got happy. And, she’s an awesome filly, so once she does that she’s going to finish all the time. She’s honest, she’s always consistent, so I knew I knew I was going to get a good run from her and it was good enough!”

Forever Together, who finished third in this race last year en route to the female turf championship, saw a three-race winning streak halted.

“Diamondrella kind of got the first run on us,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. “It took my horse a little while to get running room. Considering she was giving weight and running not under ideal conditions for her, she was by no means disgraced. I was quite worried about the soft turf. There are all sorts of variations of soft, yielding, and so on. But, she’d been training for this and I thought let the chips fall where they may.”

My Princess Jess was third, followed by Carribean Sunset (IRE), Captain’s Lover (SAF), Raw Silk and Modern Look (GB).

I Lost My Choo was scratched.

 

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