09/10/2005 12:00AM

Awesome Lady rallies in Monterey Handicap

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Awesome Lady ($21.80) pushed through a small opening at the top of the lane and withstood an inquiry to win the $67,300 Monterey Handicap at Bay Meadows on Saturday.

The 4-year-old filly earned her first stakes victory, capturing the five-furlong turf event by a nose over Beezer with Our Mango third. The winning time was 57.46.

Very Vegas led down the backstretch with Sexy Helmsman, who broke a bit slowly and then checked behind Very Vegas into the turn, moving into the lead as the field reached the stretch.

But the race was wide open, and Awesome Lady finished best to claim the victory.

"They said to stay as close as I could at the beginning, but she didn't have the speed," winning jockey Roberto Gonzalez said. "At the quarter pole, I knew I had hold of a lot of horse. I saw a hole, and I moved. When I got about a half length in front of Our Mango, she started laying on me."

Morning-line favorite Fortunately was scratched when she came up lame with a left front foot bruise in the receiving barn.

Awesome Lady earned $34,000, lifting her career earnings to $205,085 with six wins from 25 starts.