10/12/2014 5:29PM

La Tia narrowly scores in Athenia Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
La Tia, under Joel Rosario, prevails in a three-horse photo in the Athenia Stakes.

Showing her customary alacrity, the overachieving Illinois-bred La Tia scurried to the lead, rated nicely under Joel Rosario, and turned back late bids from Byrama and Overheard to win Sunday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Athenia Stakes in a three-way photo at Belmont Park.

La Tia ($8.70), who earlier this season won the Grade 3 Ontario Matron on Polytrack, was coming off a third in the Grade 2 Canadian at Woodbine last month. The 5-year-old La Tia shook loose through splits of 25.22 seconds, 48.83, and 1:12.78, and dug in gamely through the lane to win for the ninth time in 22 starts.

“They pressured me last time,” said Rosario. “The stretch at Woodbine is longer than here, and that day they finished up strong. She ran a good race and got beat by some very good horses. I was very confident with her today and knew she was going to give me 100 percent.”

La Tia desperately held on after 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.36 on a yielding inner turf course, and upped her record to 9-1-5 from 22 starts for trainer Armando De la Cerda.

“They pushed her too much in the last race,” said De la Cerda. “I was a little concerned with it having rained here, but she ran well on a good course last time.”

He added he felt better about his chances when the other speed in the race,  Nashly’s Vow, was scratched.

As for his plans with La Tia, De la Cerda said “She may run one more time this year, but I don’t know where.”

 Byrama got second in a head bob from Overheard. Cushion finished fourth.  Annecdote finished fifth as the even-money favorite.