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Top News in Sunday's TDN
Hard Spun's Hard Not To Like Makes Comeback in GIII Marshua's River S.
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10th at GPGIII Marshua's River S. ($100K)  [1 1/16m (T)]Winner: Hard Not to Like, f, 4 by Hard Spun
Saturday, Gulfstream Park
MARSHUA'S RIVER S.-GIII, $100,000, GPX, 1-5, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT, 1:41 3/5, fm.
1--@HARD NOT TO LIKE, 117, f, 4, by Hard Spun
1st Dam: Like a Gem (MSW, $554,216), by Tactical Cat
2nd Dam: Its a Ruby, by Rubiano
3rd Dam: Likeashot, by Gun Shot
O/B-Garland E Williamson (ON); T-Michael R Matz; J-Joseph Rocco Jr. $60,000. Lifetime Record: GISP, 8-4-1-0, $450,035. Werk Nick Rating: C. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2--Channel Lady, 119, f, 4, English Channel--Queen Supreme, by King of Kings (Ire). ($25,000 wlng '09 KEENOV). O-James T Scatuorchio; B-Kaygar Stable, Wayne Morris, Bluegrass Hall LLC & James Scatuorchio (KY); T-Todd A Pletcher. $20,000.
3--Leading Astray, 121, f, 4, Belong to Me--Taxable Deduction, by Prized. O/B-Team Block (IL); T-Chris M Block. $10,000.
Margins: HF, 2HF, 3/4. Odds: 7.80, 2.70, 2.30.
Also Ran: Chokurei (Ire), Frontside, Heavenly Landing, Frolic's Revenge, Affair Dabbler. Scratched: Fantasy of Flight, Filare L'oro.
Click for the chart or the PPs. Click for a video replay.
   Hard Not to Like had been off since finishing sixth in the GI Kentucky Oaks last May, but made an auspicious 4-year-old debut here for new trainer Michael Matz. Conditioned by Woodbine-based Gail Cox as a juvenile, the grey paired up wins to start her career in Etobicoke, but could do no better than fifth as the favorite in the GIII Natalma S. in May of 2011. She bounced back to beat the Canadian-bred boys in the Cup and Saucer S. that October, but couldn’t sustain a wide early move when fifth in the GII Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs the following month. Getting a late start on the Oaks trail last spring, Hard Not to Like checked in second--beaten 3/4 of a length--in Keeneland’s GI Ashland S. on the Polytrack. She went missing after the Oaks and required surgery for an undisclosed injury, but resurfaced with a steady set of easy works at Palm Meadows in preparation for this.
   Falling out of the gate slowly from her widest-of-all draw, Hard Not to Like made up ground on the first turn to sit in third behind a clear Frontside (War Front). She worked her way to the rail entering the home bend, and idled as she waited for a seam. Pilot Joe Rocco, Jr. appeared intent on tipping out for clear sailing at the top of the lane, but when a fading Frontside left the rail, Hard Not to Like dove back to the inside. Channel Lady got the jump on the grey with a clear run down the center, but Hard Not to Like gamely charged to the front and edged clear in the shadow of the wire.
   "It worked out pretty good," Rocco said of his trip. "She didn't break as sharp as I thought she would. I thought she'd be laying second from the paper, but it worked out well. Halfway around the first turn I was able to get in behind Javier Castellano [aboard Channel Lady] and draft behind him. When I saw [Joel Rosario on Frontside] pull his stick through to his left hand turning for home, I said hopefully this is my hole and my filly ran right through it."
   Matz added, "I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if Joe was going to get through there. She has that will to win. We’ve had plenty of works in her, but you never know. You’ve got to give credit to the horse." When asked about a possible next start, the conditioner said, "We’d like to keep her for the rest of the year. We’ll see if we can find something down here, maybe we can do something towards the end of the meet."

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