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Laughing Holds off Dream Peace to Upset Diana

By Jon Forbes | 07/27/2013 06:51 PM ET
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

Laughing controlled the pace, turned back a challenge from favored Centre Court, and held off a late surge from Dream Peace to win the 75th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Diana by a head on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

The second longest shot in the field of five, Laughing ran the opening quarter-mile in 24.24 seconds before Centre Court moved up to engage her as the field turned onto the backstretch. Laughing led narrowly through a half in 49.19 and three quarters in 1:12.53, put away Centre Court in midstretch, and had enough left to match strides with stretch runner Dream Peace.

"[Trainer Alan Goldberg] said, 'Break good, let her do her thing, and go from there," said winning jockey Jose Lezcano. "When I asked her at the quarter pole, she took off again and gave me enough to win the race."

Laughing, a 5-year-old owned by Richard Santulli, ran 1 1/8 miles over the firm inner turf course in 1:47.24 and returned $15.80 for a $2 win wager as a 6-1 outsider.

Stephanie's Kitten finished a half-length behind the winner in third and was followed home by Samitar and Centre Court.

Dayatthespa, who typically races on or just off the lead, was scratched by trainer Chad Brown, who also conditions Dream Peace and Samitar. Alan Goldberg said he wasn't displeased by Dayatthespa's defection.

"Even if [Dayatthespa] was in, I'd feel like we'd sit right off," said Goldberg. "It looks like [Dayatthespa] really wants the front. As it turned out, it was better this way."

Laughing has now won two straight, having defeated Dayatthespa by three-quarters of a length in course record time in her only other start this year, the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap on June 29 at Monmouth Park.

"She had the winter off and she came back well," said Goldberg. "She ran a pretty good race last time first time out of the box. She came out of the race just great, so [Santulli] said, "Let's take a shot.'"

Laughing, a daughter of Dansili who won a stakes in her native Ireland before she was purchased by Santulli and brought to the United States, is 6-2-2 in 13 starts. The $360,000 winner's share of the Diana purse lifted her earnings to $668,855.