12/20/2003 1:00AM

Katdogawn captures Dahlia


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Katdogawn completed a Saturday stakes sweep for jockey Mike Smith and recorded her third stakes victory of the year when she rallied to take the Grade 2, $150,000 Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Smith had won the Hollywood Futurity earlier on the card with Lion Heart.

Katdogawn, a 3-year-old filly, was making her first start against older runners. She had won three times in nine starts earlier this year, including Del Mar's Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap, but this was a significant step up in class.

She handled it, but just barely. Katdogawn ($17.80) tenaciously fought off Personal Legend through the final sixteenth of a mile and prevailed by a nose. Betty's Wish, who was coupled in the wagering with Personal Legend -- they went off at odds of 4-5 -- was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third.

Katdogawn arrived in this country after winning one time in five starts in her native Great Britain. Under the care of trainer Jim Cassidy, the small-framed filly has become a reliable performer in mid-level, graded stakes. In 10 starts in this country, she has finished first or second seven times, and she has never finished worse than second in five races at Hollywood Park. She was seventh in the Del Mar Oaks in her lone try against Grade 1 company.

"I'm going to give her a break now because she proved to me what happened at the Del Mar Oaks is she was flat as a pancake after running huge in the San Clemente," said Cassidy, who trains Katdogawn for Jim Ford, John Cuchna, and Deron Pearson. "I think this was as big. I'm going to have to think about giving her a month off."