Ten Things You Should Know: Diana Stakes
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Originally published on July 29, 2010
1) The Diana Stakes is a Grade 1 race over the turf at 1 1/8 miles for older fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course in New York. The race is named for the mythical Roman goddess of the hunt.
2) It has been run at Saratoga annually since its first running in 1939 with the exception of 1943 to 1945 when it was hosted by Belmont Park because of the wartime closure at Saratoga.
3) The Diana was a dirt race from 1939 to 1972. It has been run as graded stakes since the beginning of the graded stakes system in 1973. It was upgraded from a Grade 2 to a Grade 1 in 2003.
4) The winners of the Diana from 1978 to 1981 all have had a New York stakes race named in their honor: Waya (1978), Pearl Necklace (1979), Just A Game (1980), and De La Rose (1981). Other Diana winners with the honor of a named stakes race are Busanda (1952), Miss Grillo (1946 and 1947), Tempted (1959 and 1960), Gamely (1969), and Shuvee (1970 and 1971), Memories of Silver (1998) and Wonder Again (2004).
5) Shuvee is arguably the greatest race mare to occupy the winner’s circle of the Diana. She won the Diana twice during back-to-back seasons in which she was voted champion older female (1970 and 1971). She is a member of the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame and ranked 70th in the Blood-Horse’s Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century.
6) Shuvee is one of seven mares to win the Diana twice. Of those seven two-time winners, Shuvee and Searching (1956 and 1958) are inductees in the Racing Hall of Fame. Searching also finished second in the 1957 Diana. Gamely, another Hall of Fame inductee, crossed the line first in 1968 and 1969 but was disqualified and officially placed second in the 1968 edition.
7) In 1952, Busanda, the daughter of War Admiral, won the Diana. In retirement as a broodmare, she produced Buckpasser in 1963. Buckpasser was the 1966 Horse of the Year and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970.
8) In 2015, Hard Not to Like set the track and stakes record when she stopped the clock in 1:45.22. She broke the previous Diana Stakes record set by Waya in 1978.
9) Rokeby Stable won the Diana six times from 1967 to 1989. Rokeby was the stable of Paul Mellon, an heir to the Mellon Bank fortune and a thoroughbred breeder and owner. Mellon is one of only six people designated as an “Exemplar of Racing” by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
10) Elliott Burch, a Hall of Fame trainer who is the son and grandson of Hall of Fame trainers, won a record five editions of the Diana. The first three came with Rokeby Stables mares and the final two came back-to-back in 1982 and 1983.