01/09/2013 3:38PM

Gulfstream Park: Hard Not to Like returns in style

Courtney Heeney
Hard Not to Like wins the Marshua's River Stakes off an eight-month layoff.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hard Not to Like was back under tack at trainer Michael Matz’s barn Tuesday morning at Palm Meadows, just three days after returning from an eight-month layoff and overcoming a slow start to capture the Grade 3 Marshua’s River here Saturday. Hard Not to Like, a 4-year-old Hard Spun filly, was making her first start for Matz after beginning her career with trainer Gail Cox. She was ridden by Joe Rocco Jr.

“She went into the gate last, kind of leaned back once she got in there, and that’s when they opened the gate,” said Matz. “It was kind of an unfortunate thing, and then when they didn’t go very fast the first part of it, I wasn’t sure if the leaders might not just keep on going and she wouldn’t be able to catch them. But she had a nice kick to her, I’ll tell you. And going up the inside like that, Joe said even when he went to pull up, another horse came up to the outside of her and she wanted to go again.

“She had a long break before this race so we’ll kind of go easy with her now,” said Matz of Hard Not to Like, a Canadian-bred owned by Garland Williamson. “We’d like to have her for the whole summer so we’ll just of spread things out a little bit. Just kind of go easy. Maybe she could run at the end of the meet or we could just wait until Keeneland. One of the things (Williamson) would like to do is the E.P. Taylor at the end of the year. It’s a long ways away, but he said to keep that race in mind.”