High Road: Mitchell Road bids for Diana

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Guinness McFadden kept saying the same thing.

“We just need one more good horse for Jerry,” McFadden said.

McFadden wanted one more good horse for his uncle, Joseph “Jerry” Shields Jr.

The longtime, loyal owner died in October.

“Now we’ve got two,” McFadden said from underneath a tree outside Bill Mott’s barn Friday morning.

The first is Kentucky Derby winner Country House. The second, that’s Mitchell Road. The 4-year-old daughter of English Channel rides a four-race win streak into today’s Grade 1 Diana. A winner of five of seven starts, the bay filly exits an easy win in the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico Preakness Day and takes on five salty rivals, including multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Rushing Fall and last year’s champion turf female Sistercharlie.

That’s OK with McFadden.

“This is what we’re trying to do, right, win races at Saratoga,” he said. “You like to face the best competition possible. There was no question in my mind about dodging horses, I want to see what we’ve got. She’s ready, she’s fit, she looks good, she’s got a bunch of experience now and doesn’t like to lose. We’ll see.”

McFadden has been seeing a lot since Shields convinced him to get involved in Thoroughbred racing. Shields noticed McFadden’s interest in racing when his nephew was in his early teens, making forays to Belmont Park to see the long list of Shields’ homebreds.

“I had been going to the track with him since I was little and I always liked it, he saw something. I wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for him,” McFadden said. “I guess he just loved the sport so much and thought it might be something I liked. I always liked sports but couldn’t really participate in football or basketball or baseball at the professional level, but, Gosh, this is just as good.”

To read the rest of the Diana preview, download Saturday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.