11/22/2014 6:21PM

Daring Kathy handles older foes in My Charmer

Natalie Fawkes
Daring Kathy, who got away with slow early fractions under Abdiel Jaen, wins the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap.

MIAMI - Trainer David Fawkes walked the Gulfstream Park West turf course early Saturday, making sure the strip wasn’t too soft  for his 3-year-old filly Daring Kathy, who was scheduled to race later that afternoon in the $100,000 My Charmer Handicap.

After inspecting the course, Fawkes gave the thumbs up sign, and then watched several hours later as Daring Kathy notched her first graded stakes win with a wire-to-wire, 1 1/4-length triumph over Cushion in the Grade 3 My Charmer.

Racing against older horses for the first time in her career, Daring Kathy ($11.80) set the pace as expected, jockey Abdiel Jaen backing up the field  after a half mile in a slow 51.80 seconds over the “good” course. Daring Kathy held a tenuous lead approaching the stretch before surging well clear when urged upon leaving the final turn. She was never seriously threatened the remainder of the way.

Cushion, forced to take back to last after breaking from the extreme outside in a field of 10  fillies and mares, waited in traffic around the second bend then finished best of all once clear for the drive, besting Lilbourne Eliza by a nose to be second. Angelica Zapata finished fifth as the tepid 3-1 favorite.

Daring Kathy, a daughter of Wildcat Heir, is owned by her breeders, John Eaton and Steve Laymon. She completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.70, her final time .02 of a second faster than Lubash covered the same distance winning the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap earlier on the card.

“I told Abdiel to ride her like he rode the 2-year-old filly last week,” said Fawkes, referring to Hangover Saturday, who used similar tactics to win the Juvenile Filly Turf here earlier this month. “Even the fractions were almost the same. When I saw them go the half in  51 and 4, and she did everything he asked, I knew she was home free. You always worry about [facing] older horses and all the rain, but we got the opportunity to look at the turf course, it looked in great shape and I think it helped us a lot. It’s the reason we raced. We weren’t running this morning.”

Fawkes said he has several options to look at for Daring Kathy before her next major goal, the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 17.