06/09/2002 11:00PM

Catahoula Rose likes the mud

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CALGARY, Alberta - Trainer Jim Brown could have been excused for believing he was home in Vancouver as he awaited the return of Duchess of York winner Catahoula Rose last Saturday amidst a driving rain at Stampede Park.

The wet weather suited Catahoula Rose just fine as she romped home a two-length winner over the early pacesetter Slewability, under a ground-saving ride from Anthony Stephen.

Catahoula Rose, a 4-year-old filly, found the muddy surface to her liking and settled comfortably into third spot during the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile, $40,000 handicap.

Slewability, under Alex Ferris, posted moderate early fractions of 24.20 seconds, 48.40, and 1:14.20 and appeared headed to victory after disposing of C D Cool at the quarter pole.

But Stephen, who made the trek over the Rockies to accompany Catahoula Rose in her first local outing, was getting a perfect trip along the rail and asked his mount to go after Slewability on the final turn. Stephen, a native of Trinidad riding his first season at Hastings Park, urged Catahoula Rose through along the inside and then swung her outside.

It was clear by then that Stephen's mount had superior momentum, and she collared Slewability in midstretch on her way to a decisive tally in a final clocking of 1:47.40.

Catahoula Rose was on her way back to her Vancouver base Sunday morning, but Brown indicated he will consider making trips to Northlands Park for stakes later this summer.

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