03/13/2009 11:00PM

Fancy Diamond refuses to fold

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Harry Vega, a late substitute rider on longshot Fancy Diamond, said he was given simple instructions by trainer Cathal Lynch, who felt confident the 5-year-old mare would break quickly from the gate in the $50,000 Conniver Stakes at Laurel Park.

"My instructions were to take the lead and don't give it up at any cost," Vega said. "She really dug in down the stretch."

Vega's assignment became easier when Met a Miner, who had not been headed in her first two starts since she was claimed by Scott Lake, reared at the start.

Fancy Diamond ($22.60) thus got an uncontested lead, refused to surrender when she was challenged by defending champion All Giving in midstretch, and held on by a neck in the seven-furlong race for Maryland-bred fillies and mares. Fancy Diamond, making just her second start since coming to Lynch's barn, covered the distance in 1:23.72.

Vega picked up the mount Saturday morning when Lynch's brother, jockey Fergal Lynch, did not make the trip from his home base of Philadelphia Park.

Fancy Diamond, now 6 for 12 lifetime, was claimed for $32,500 in early December out of a sprint on Polytrack at Turfway Park. In her previous stakes appearance at Laurel last fall, Fancy Diamond finished a distant sixth as the 9-5 favorite in the Maryland Million Distaff Handicap.

All Giving was a clear second, 4 1/2 lengths in front of Puskita, the 4-5 favorite, in a field reduced to seven by two scratches.