Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Wygod's homebred Delmonico Cat surged to the lead in the final strides to win the $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares by a half-length Saturday at Gulfstream Park, registering her first career graded stakes victory.
The 5-year-old Storm Cat mare pounced to the wire in 1:41 1/5 for the 1 1/16-mile turf event, defeating, in order, Coney Kitty, Madeira Mist and May Gator. All three were in position to win in deep stretch until Delmonico Cat unleashed her late kick from the outside.
Jerry Bailey rode the winner, who is trained by Bill Mott.
Delmonico Cat, carrying 116 pounds, raced in mid-pack early, easing out for his rally entering the stretch and catching Coney Kitty in the final strides.
May Gator, with Jorge Chavez aboard, established the pace early, going :23 4/5 for the opening quarter mile, :48 1/5 for the half and 1:12 for six furlongs. In deep stretch, Coney Kitty, with Cornelio Velasquez aboard, charged to the front on the outside along with Madeira Mist and Edgar Prado, who waited for room along the hedge. Coney Kitty wound up a neck in a front of Madeira Mist for the place spot, with May Gator another neck farther behind.
Something Ventured, the 2-1 favorite in the 10-horse field, finished fifth, rallying evenly after being unhurried through the first six furlongs. Gal O Gal, Paga, Katzen, Virgin Voyage and Love Sting completed the order of finish. Delta Princess and Miss Terrible were scratched.
Delmonico Cat was coming off a sixth-place finish in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs Nov. 22, her first race against graded stakes-caliber opponents and the only out-of-the-money performance in her career. She improved to 6-5-2 in 14 career tries with earnings of $273,804.
She paid $11.80, $5.80 and $4.40 as the third choice. Coney Kitty returned $6 and $4. Madeira Mist, the 117-pound co-high weight, showed for $3.60. The $2 exacta was worth $75.60.