R Angel Katelyn and jockey Edwin Gonzalez survived a stewards inquiry and won the the $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes.
R Angel Katelyn, a 3-year-old filly, won by a length-and-three-quarters in a strong time of 1:23.94 for the seven-furlong distance. But a stewards inquiry, followed by a claim of foul by Jesus Castanon, the jockey aboard runner-up Jumby Bay, caused trainer Gerald Bennett and the rest of the R Angel Katelyn crowd — about five-dozen strong —to sweat things out a little longer.
The triumph was the third consecutive stakes score for the Florida-bred daughter of High Cotton-Send for an Angel, by Southern Halo, who had won the Sandpiper Stakes from the Todd Pletcher-trained Jumby Bay here on Dec. 3.
Bred in Florida by Craig Lawrence Wheeler, R Angel Katelyn, now 4-for-5 lifetime with a second, is owned by Bradenton residents Rich Averill (Averill Racing), Clark Freeman (CCF Racing Stable) and Roger Smith (K Lauren Racing).
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R Angel Katelyn’s impressive triumph was part of a Skyway Festival Day card that included victories by The Money Monster in the $100,000 Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds and 5-year-old mare No Fault of Mine in the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes.
“It’s hard to win a race, and it’s really hard to win in front of everybody. That’s what makes this so special,” Averill said. “It’s very exciting for me. She ran unbelievable today, and this is one of my top moments at Tampa Bay Downs.”
Bennett exhaled before addressing R Angel Katelyn’s performance.
“This track always slows later in the day, and when I saw she ran the half-mile in (44.32 seconds), I thought she was going a little too quick,” he said. “But she has been training like a monster in the mornings, and she showed a lot of class today.”
Eclipse Awards: California Chrome has one race left in his career, and is in such good condition right now that trainer Art Sherman is clamoring for more time with him.
It’s easy to see why.
California Chrome was the biggest winner at the Eclipse Awards on Saturday night, taking home three trophies celebrating his accomplishments in 2016, including Horse of the Year for the second time. He also won an Eclipse as the best in the older dirt male division, and his victory at the Dubai World Cup was picked as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s moment of the year.
There were three unanimous winners out of the 248 votes cast in 17 divisions — California Chrome (older dirt male), Classic Empire (2-year-old male) and Songbird (3-year-old filly). Beholder (older dirt female) and Arrogate (3-year-old male) were practically unanimous, getting 99 and 98 percent of the votes, respectively.
Beholder won her fourth career Eclipse, and is now retired.
Champagne Room (2-year-old filly), Drefong (male sprinter), Finest City (female sprinter), Flintshire (male turf), Rawnaq (steeplechase) and Tepin (female turf) all also prevailed in their divisions by wide margins.