Hard Not to Like rallies to win Diana at Saratoga
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) Hard Not to Like closed with a flourish down the middle of the stretch to catch Tepin and win the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana by a nose Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the 6-year-old Speedway Stable mare hit the wire in 1:45.22, setting a Mellon turf course record for 1 1/8 miles. The previous mark of 1:45.33 was set by Shakis in the 2007 Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap.
It was the third win of the day and second stakes victory for Velazquez and third career Diana triumph for trainer Christophe Clement. Hard Not to Like returned $14.40, $5.90 and $4.70 for her second straight Grade 1 victory and third overall.
Tepin paid $4.20 and 3.20, and 26-1 pacesetter Kitten’s Queen returned $7.50.
In the co-feature, Uncle Vinny was elevated to victory following the disqualification of Magna Light for interference in the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford Stakes for 2-year-olds.
Magna Light finished first in 1:10.92 for six furlongs on the main track, but was taken down and placed third behind Percolator after altering course sharply under the whip of jockey Jose Ortiz and impeding Percolator in the stretch. Uncle Vinny, with Velazquez up, rallied to edge Percolator for second under the wire.
Uncle Vinny paid $10, $5.80 and $5.30 for his first stakes victory in three lifetime starts. Percolator returned $17.60 and $11.20, and Magna Light paid $8.60 to show.