Arcadia Stable’s Diva Maria seized center stage in the Fair Hill Races’ $30,000 Valentine Memorial on Saturday, May 29, when she turned back challenges to prevail by a half-length. Flying Horse Farm’s Farah T Salute took second, and Mrs. Calvin Houghland’s Sweet Shani held third over fourth-place finisher Moon Dolly in a field of ten for the Sport of Kings Filly and Mare Division race.
Prepared by reigning champion trainer Jack Fisher and ridden by Xavier Aizpuru, Diva Maria ran the Valentine Memorial’s 2 1/4 miles over National Fences in 4:19 4/5 on firm turf at the historic northern Maryland course.
A five-year-old Maria’s Mon mare, Diva Maria continued her steady improvement for Fisher. She had won her maiden victory over fences at the 2009 Carolina Cup meet at Camden, S.C., and opened the current season with a fifth-place finish in the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at the Foxfield Spring Races in Charlottesville, Va., where she led for more than a mile before tiring on April 24.
She returned with a second-place finish in the Margaret Currey Henley Stakes at the Iroquois Races at Nashville, Tenn., on May 8. She led for more than two miles in that Grade 3 race before finishing 3 1/4 lengths behind Sweet Shani.