01/05/2013 6:05PM

Gulfstream Park: Hard Not to Like hardly rusty coming back in Marshua's River

Bob Coglianese
Hard Not to Like, making her first start since May, scores under Joe Rocco Jr. in the Marshua's River.

Making her first start in eight months, Hard Not to Like got through along the rail and proceeded to outrun Channel Lady in the final 100 yards Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Marshua’s River at Gulfstream Park.

With Joe Rocco Jr. aboard, Hard Not to Like got a good trip from her outside post in the field of eight fillies and mares, lurking in midpack before making her winning run. She returned $17.60 when finishing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:41.70 over a firm course.

Channel Lady, the 5-2 second choice, was a half-length behind the winner and another 2 1/2 lengths before Leading Astray.

Previously based in Canada with trainer Gail Cox, Hard Not to Like was winning a graded race for the first time, although she won the $250,000 Cup and Saucer at Woodbine as a 2-year-old and was second last spring in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. A gray 4-year-old filly by Hard Spun, she was bred in Ontario and is owned by the Hillsbrook Farms. She was making her first start for her new trainer, Michael Matz, and her first since finishing sixth in the Kentucky Oaks last May.

Chris Block, the Chicago-based trainer who saddled his first winner in 1990, was denied his 1,000th career victory when Leading Astray, the 2-1 favorite, failed to seriously threaten as his only starter of the day.

Filare l’Oro and Fantasy of Flight were early scratches.