A bad step just yards from the wire by pacesetter Avery Hall proved costly Thursday at Saratoga Race Course as favored Karakorum Splendor rallied in the final strides to win the $250,000 Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a nose.Avery Hall, the lone non-New York-bred in the field – she was foaled in New Jersey but is by New York stallion, A.P. Jet – got the lead from the rail under jockey Tony Black after asolid first quarter in :23 3/5 for the nine-furlong race. Karakorum Splendor, who broke from post 2, tracked the leader about a length behind as they slowed the middle fraction to get the half in :49 4/5.The duel continued to the quarter pole, where Karakorum Splendor took a brief lead. Avery Hall dug in, however, grabbed the lead back and began to edge away.But as she approached the wire, she took a bad step and opened the door for Karakorum Splendor, who got up to win in 1:53 4/5. The 4-5 favorite, she paid $3.70, $2.70 and $2.30."I didn't think she was a cinch," said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "She got lucky, she got her head down. We'll take it."It was the fifth win in 10 starts for Karakorum Splendor and probably her most difficult. "She ran great, but it wasn't easy," said jockey John Velazquez. "I had a very hard time to get her to relax early in the race. She wanted to take off, and she really fought me hard. Eventually, I brought her to the 5-path down the backstretch so I could let her go on her own terms. Then, I really had to work hard to get her running again."For Avery Hall ($4.70 and $3.50) and Black, the loss was a bitter one.
"Where they rake the track -- the imperfection in the harrow -- she saw it, stuck her toes in and lost her action. I'm sure it cost her the race," Black said. Fountain'sprincess ($4 to show), Ms Litigator, Dynamo Hum and Stellar Maiden were never factors in the race. (Chart, Equibase)