Race in for Diamond
SHOULD the connections of SPARKLE DIAMOND, in attempting to qualify for November's Diamond Mile, choose to skip open allowance and tackle grade-one company in next week's win-and-you-re-in Gold Cup, it would be interesting to see the weight allotment after he makes hacks of rivals in Saturday's overnight allowance at seven and a half furlongs.
Unbeaten in his last three races, including clocking the joint-fastest five-and-a-half furlong time this season, pulling a train while doing so, SPARKLE DIAMOND's earnings towards Diamond Mile qualification starts on Saturday. According to new rules, which disavow purses not only beneath overnight allowance, but also below seven furlongs at the level, a biased slap in the face to owners of horses, who would have qualified on a straight-earnings basis.
Having already bankrolled $1.5m from four starts, SPARKLE DIAMOND, based on the new rules, is nowhere closer to qualifying for the Diamond Mile than a horse who has never earned a dollar in its life. Facing that hurdle, another looms, the matter of weight to be carried in the Gold Cup, should trainer Ralph Porter succumb to the stick-'em-up regime in chase of what, from all indications, will be the last running of the US$115,000 Diamond Mile.
All eyes will be on the tote board after Saturday's race to see how fast SPARKLE DIAMOND completes seven and a half furlongs ahead of the Gold Cup, a handicap race, for which weight should be determined by ratings consistently maintained from past performances, which takes into account many variables, not a number put together based on entrants for the Gold Cup.
In other words, horses such as SPARKLE DIAMOND and STRANGER DANGER, ought to have been racing against like company long ago, not inferior opposition, which now raises the question of an equitable weight should Porter take the plunge in the Gold Cup.
Last time out, SPARKLE DIAMOND broke slow, giving away lengths at five furlongs straight, but was in front before entering the main track in opening splits of 22.3. It's not often that a horse misses the break at five furlongs straight but surges to the lead before the flagman gets out of the way, which puts the American-bred in a different class.
In the race to make the Diamond Mile, roughly two months away, SPARKLE DIAMOND's options are to win two open allowance races, as quickly as possible after Saturday's victory, or try beating SHE'S A MANEATER and her friend, STRANGER DANGER, in the Gold Cup and/or the Invitational Mile on October 5 for automatic entry.
The Diamond Mile 'tweak', which came about because of one horse's almost-missed participation last year, has now returned to haunt Porter's charge, who, by the new stipulations, is deemed penniless entering Saturday's race, though holding $1.5m earned this year.
However, Porter probably need not worry because the Diamond Mile stipulations have so far ruled out so many horses, including runners-up in classic races, that SPARKLE DIAMOND might easily qualify, even with sparse 'earnings', making the whole matter a storm in a teacup.