Tates Creek Wins Diana by a Nose

Bobby Frankel had such a splendid time at Saratoga Race Course last year that the Hall of Fame trainer couldn't wait to get back.

Saturday afternoon, on the first weekend of the Spa's 134th season, Frankel came back with a vengeance, winning the 64th running the $500,000 Diana Handicap when Juddmonte Farm's Tates Creek won a head bob over favored Voodoo Dancer in this nine-furlong, inner-turf event for fillies and mares.

It was the second consecutive Diana win for Frankel, whose victory with Starine in this race last year put the finishing touches on a 10-for-21 season that featured six stakes wins.

This time, he had to wait for the photo. Officially, Tates Creek won by a nose in 1:48.

"For $500,000, I don't know if the word is `anxious' or `nervous,'" Frankel said. "She had a real good trip. Jerry (Bailey) rode her perfect. Watching the head-bob, I wasn't sure. But when they slowed it down, it looked like she got it. Until I saw the `1' up, I wasn't that confident. I thought the post would help her a lot. She's a game filly. The other filly (Voodoo Dancer) got a head in front of her."

Snow Dance carved out the early fractions of :23 3/5 and :48 3/5, prompted by Babae. Tates Creek enjoyed a ground-saving trip under Bailey and put in a bid to match that of the rallying Voodoo Dancer.

In the end, however, the call went to Tates Creek and Bailey.

"I didn't know if I had it. It was so close," said Bailey. "We had a good trip. She has a few different gears, which helped. She really dug in."

It was the second tough defeat in as many days for trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Jose Santos. On Friday, Bailey and Del Mar Show beat them and Forbidden Apple in the Bernard Baruch. Voodoo Dancer was the victim on Saturday.

"I thought I had it won," Santos said. "It was very close. It's a tough beat. I wouldn't do anything different."

The victory opens new opportunities for Tates Creek, a 4-year-old Rahy filly who has won six of nine starts.

"This was her first time at a mile and an eighth, and she hung in there pretty tough," Frankel said. "She got lucky today and won the right race."

It was a length back to Snow Dance in third and two noses separated her from fourth-place finisher Babae and fifth-place finisher Blue Moon. Beefeater Baby, Owsley, Solvig and Reina Blanca completed the order of finish.

The winner, the second choice in a field of nine, paid $9.30, $4, and $3.10. Voodoo Dancer, the 3-2 favorite, paid $2.90 and 2.60. Pacesetters Snow Dance and Babae were a length behind the first two, with Snow Dance paying $4.40 for the show. The $2 exacta paid $26.60.

(Chart, Equibase)