05/31/2003 11:00PM

Katdogawn best in Manhattan Beach

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Katdogawn overcame trouble to launch a late rally that led to her first stakes win in Sunday's $77,400 Manhattan Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Sent off as part of a favored entry with Little Malvern, Katdogawn ($4.20) closed from ninth in the final quarter-mile to post an impressive two-length victory. Ridden by Mike Smith, Katdogawn ran 5 1-2 furlongs on turf in 1:02.77.

Katdogawn was at the back of the field early, well behind Spectacular Anzi, who set fractions of 22.03 and 44.40 seconds. Smith had to check Katdogawn on the turn when in tight quarters, but was able to close ground on the leaders when he eased his mount to the outside.

Katdogawn was still eighth on the final turn, but had moved up to fifth in mid-stretch.

"She's got an great turn of foot in the stretch," Smith said. "When I moved out, I was confident she would be able to show it."

Seven Grand, who won her first two starts in northern California, finished second, a length in front of 24-1 Montana Banana. Little Malvern, Katdogawn's stablemate, finished eighth in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies.

Owned by a partnership and trained by Jim Cassidy, Katdogawn has won 3 of 10 starts and $113,790. She was second in the La Habra Stakes earlier this year at Santa Anita and stakes-placed in England last year before being acquired by her current connections.