Chilean-bred Ema Bovary bounced back from a rocky U.S. debut to win the $59,000 Soviet Problem Handicap at Golden Gate Fields Sunday.Ema Bovary, ridden by Roberto Gonzalez with 115 pounds, surged to the lead heading into the far turn and then just held off 4-5 favorite Lacie Girl, who carried 122, to win the six-furlong race for fillies and mares by a nose in 1:08.88.Ema Bovary made her U.S. bow in the Richmond Handicap on Feb. 16 and lost all chance at the start when she wheeled leaving the gate and nearly unseated Gonzalez. Even though she checked in last in the Richmond, she finished well and was only beaten by 5 1/4 lengths by winner Lacie Girl.Ema Bovary broke a little slowly Sunday but otherwise enjoyed a smooth trip while favored Lacie Girl endured a wide journey. Lacie Girl broke from post position one but was quickly taken off the rail by jockey Russell Baze, who wanted to get the stretch-running filly in the clear.Lacie Girl ended up being stuck out in the middle of track when early leader Onslaught, ridden by Chad Schvanveldt, decided to set the pace from well off the rail. Seeing plenty of room inside, Gonzalez pointed Ema Bovary toward the rail and she responded willingly to take command entering the turn."When I saw how wide Chad was on the backside I decided I'd better get to the inside," said Gonzalez. "Chad tried to drop down on me but I got the jump on him. I felt pretty good when she opened up into the stretch but then I looked under my shoulder and saw Russell coming. I decided I'd better hit her and said, 'hang on baby.'"Ema Bovary held on to earn her fourth victory in nine career races while Lacie Girl suffered only her second defeat in eight starts. "We just lost too much ground," said Baze. "You have to ride this filly one way. You have to keep her in the clear and keep pushing on her. She doesn't like to have dirt in her face."
Ema Bovary is trained by Larry Ross and owned by Richard T. Beal Jr. The 4-year-old filly earned $33,500 for Sunday's win – more than double the $15,522 in earnings she had entering the race.Gonzalez, 48, swept the weekend stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Saturday, he won the $67,400 Danville Handicap aboard Presidio Heights. (Chart, Equibase)