Updated on 09/17/2011 12:04PM

Voodoo Dancer turns the tables

Voodoo Dancer, a narrow loser in the same race last year, defeats Heat Haze by a neck to win the Diana.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Three hundred and 64 days after suffering the most frustrating setback of her career in the 2002 Diana Handicap, Voodoo Dancer scored her sweetest and perhaps most important victory Saturday when she outgamed Heat Haze by a neck to win the 65th running of the Grade 1 at Saratoga.

Voodoo Dancer lost a nose bob to Tates Creek in last year's Diana. Like Tates Creek, Heat Haze is owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel.

"She's an amazing filly," said Christophe Clement, who trains Voodoo Dancer for Green Hills Farms. "She really has an explosive turn of foot. She lost a couple of close decisions to Frankel and Tates Creek last year. It's about time we beat him."

Voodoo Dancer almost missed the chance to avenge last year's heartbreaking loss. Heavy rains earlier this week left the status of the turf course in question, and Clement had made contingency plans to ship Voodoo Dancer to Santa Anita for Saturday's John Mabee Handicap. But two days of clear weather dried out the turf course sufficiently for the Diana to be contested over firm ground. Clement scratched Mariensky, his other entrant in the Diana, earlier in the day.

Voodoo Dancer paid $7.20 as the second choice in a field of eight fillies and mares. Her time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:47.98.

With Corey Nakatani aboard, Voodoo Dancer settled along the hedge less than five lengths off a modest early pace set by Delta Princess, who was pressed by both Wonder Again and Riskaverse. Voodoo Dancer gradually eased to the outside leaving the backstretch, made a quick move after swinging five wide into the stretch and put her head in front of Heat Haze near the eighth pole. She then proved gamest following a stirring duel. Heat Haze rallied four wide leaving the final turn but could not get by the winner in the final furlong.

Pertuisane, trapped behind a wall of horses in early stretch, rallied belatedly once clear to finish third. Snow Dance, the upset winner of the New York Handicap earlier this month, lost her best chance when she reared at the start and broke well behind the field. She finished seventh.

Clement said he is considering the Aug. 16 Beverly D. at Arlington Park for Voodoo Dancer's next start.