01/18/2003 1:00AM

Denali Cat captures Miss California


ALBANY, Calif. - Denali Cat ($5) scored her first stakes victory as she outran Heart Ofa Champion down the stretch to win the six-furlong $60,000 added Miss California for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.

Denali Cat tracked Watch Out World down the backstretch, moved abreast of her on the turn and put her nose in front heading into the stretch. She moved out a bit as Heart Ofa Champion moved up after rallying three wide on the turn. She also drifted out momentarily around the 16th pole before straightening out.

The incidents prompted an objection by Heart Ofa Champion's rider Kevin Krigger, but stewards upheld Denali Cat's three-quarter length victory. The winning time was 1:09.64.

"I knew (Watch Out World) was done, and I was trying to see where (Heart Ofa Champion) was," winning rider Adalberto Lopez said. "I drifted out, but I didn't stop him from riding."

Winning trainer Brian Koriner said that drawing outside probably was advantageous but said, "She has the ability to relax off horses."

Denali Cat scored her second career victory, earning $43,600 to lift her career earnings to $83,290.