Parisian Diva set to represent home team in CT Oaks
Parisian Diva. Photo by Coady Photography.
In the weeks leading up to the Grade III, $300,000 Charles Town Oaks for three-year-old fillies this Saturday, trainer Stacey Viands was already hearing the comparisons between his trainee, Parisian Diva, and last year’s heroine, fellow West Virginia-bred Late Night Pow Wow. But Viands was quick to cast them aside as the daughter of Freedom Child prepares for her toughest test yet over her home track.
“My filly is really doing good,” Viands said of Parisian Diva, who tuned up for the Oaks by breezing three furlongs in 35 seconds flat and galloping out five furlongs in a minute on September 13. “She’s coming into the race as good as any other. She trains here and she loves this track, and now the other fillies have to come here. There are some really nicely-bred fillies coming in, and they all have top riders.”
Saturday night’s Charles Town Oaks is the 11th race on a 12-race card that also includes five restricted West Virginia-bred stakes for horses prepping for the West Virginia Breeders Classics card here on October 12 and a pair of open stakes, the Pink Ribbon and the Dickie Moore. Saturday’s card will also get under way two hours earlier than normal with the first race slated for 5 p.m. Projected post time for the Oaks, the last stake on the program, is 10:15.
Much like Late Night Pow Wow did last summer, Parisian Diva arrives off a sharp score in the $50,000 Sylvia Bishop Memorial Stakes for West Virginia-bred three-year-old fillies, her fifth win in seven starts this year for Viands and owner-breeder Melinda Golden. Parisian Diva has won five of seven starts this year, including a pair of stakes, and earned nearly $130,000. Overall, she sports a 7-3-1 slate and nearly $192,000 banked from 11 career outings. She was also second behind the speedy Please Flatter Me, a multiple stakes winner who is Grade 3-placed, in the $100,000 Alma North Stakes at Laurel Park.
“When we went to Maryland [for the Alma North], a lot of people thought we had no chance because she was just a West Virginia-bred running against open stakes company,” Viands recalled. “But she showed me that she could ship and still run well against open stakes company. She’s always loved going seven furlongs. Of course, up here it’s two turns, and I’m not sure how much some of those other fillies shipping in here on Saturday night are going to like going two turns.”
Parisian Diva emerged on the scene last summer with a sharp debut victory, placed in a pair of local stakes, and then ended her season with a victory in the $50,000 Eleanor Casey Memorial at seven furlongs. She won the $50,000 It’s Binn Too Long Stakes on the undercard of the Grade II, $1 million Charles Town Classic in April, was later second in the Alma North then returned home to run second in an allowance event before taking the Sylvia Bishop handily under rider Jose Montano.
“Jose always wants to get on her now,” Viands said. “But I keep telling him that he has to wait for the works and the race. J.D. [Acosta] had been her regular rider and said he would ride her anywhere, but he chose to go to Colonial Downs for a pair of stakes last month, so we gave Jose a chance to ride her in the Sylvia Bishop and she won easily, so we’re going to put him back up on her this weekend.”
On Saturday night, Viands will be at home when he walks into the paddock to saddle Parisian Diva for her first graded stakes attempt. But he will be surrounded by conditioners who are accustomed to running in lucrative events. Trainers Todd Pletcher, Brad Cox, David Fawkes, Linda Rice and Arnaud Delacour, among others, are no strangers to graded stakes affairs, but Viands will be visiting new territory in that regard.
“You look at the trainers and the jockeys in the race and you see some big names,” Viands said. “This is exciting for me. She’s a one-of-a-kind filly. She’s all heart. She’s all race horse. She won her last race here pretty easily. I know she can click off splits of 23 and 46 and 1:11 here and keep going. So we’ll see if she can work out a trip and be in position to have a chance turning for home.”
Viands will have options with the daughter of Freedom Child after the Oaks. She ran third on West Virginia Breeders Classics night last year, and as a Maryland-sired horse, she’s Maryland Million-eligible. But her immediate future is Viands’ only concern right now.
“We’re just going to take it one race at a time,” Viands said. “But right now my only focus is this Saturday for the Oaks. Once she gets through this race we’ll start looking for her next one.”
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