01/21/2017 5:26PM

R Angel Katelyn survives scrutiny of stewards in Gasparilla

John Duca/SV Photography
R Angel Katelyn, under Edwin Gonzalez, collects her third straight stakes victory in the Gasparilla.

OLDSMAR, Fla. -- There were some anxious moments for the connections of R Angel Katelyn on Saturday as the stewards at Tampa Bay Downs decided whether to disqualify her for repeatedly lugging out in the stretch of the $86,000 Gasparilla Stakes. But in the end, the stewards took no action, and the filly notched her third consecutive stakes win.

The victory reversed a day of frustration for leading trainer Gerald Bennett, who had finished second earlier on the card with Chance of Luck in the Pasco Stakes and Royal Jewely in the Wayward Lass Stakes.

R Angel Katelyn found herself in an unusual position early in the seven-furlong Gasparilla -- trailing a horse. She tracked J’s Indian Charm through a quarter-mile in 22.02 seconds before taking her customary position at the front of the pack through a half-mile in a sizzling 44.32, with Jumby Bay pressing her from the outside.

R Angel Katelyn, with Edwin Gonzalez aboard, got to the head of the lane with a one-length lead but drifted out into the center of the track several times, causing Jumby Bay and jockey Jesus Castanon to momentarily lose momentum. R Angel Katelyn finished the race in 1:23.94 on a fast track, winning by 1 3/4 lengths, and paid $4 as the favorite in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies.

“She wasn’t going to go by my filly,” Bennett said when asked if R Angel Katelyn’s bearing out affected the outcome of the race. “She was looking at the crowd and stuff, so I might put blinkers on her. She’s been training like a monster in the mornings. When I saw the 44 half, I said, ‘Oh, man, she’s going a little bit too quick.’ She’s a nice filly.”

Castanon said he thought Jumby Bay might have been able to reel in R Angel Katelyn with a smoother stretch run.

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“The kid was trying to correct the filly, but she came out the second time, and my filly was gaining a little bit of ground, but she had to check a little bit,” Castanon said. “It might have cost me the race.”

Jumby Bay finished five lengths clear of recent Hut Hut Stakes winner Lirica, who was followed by Livin a Dream, Phone Chick, Rashette, Mythical Tale, Larryandpearlslucy, and J’s Indian Charm.   

R Angel Katelyn, a daughter of High Cotton owned by Averill Racing LLC and CCF Racing Stable, has four wins and a runner-up finish in five career starts for $207,120 in earnings. She won the $100,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint against Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park West in November before romping by 3 1/2 lengths in the $89,000 Sandpiper Stakes here on Dec. 3.

Bennett said he wasn’t sure if he would point R Angel Katelyn to the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile and 40 yards here Feb. 11.

“She’s had three hard races now,” he said. “She’ll tell us.”

Jumby Bay, a City Zip filly trained by Todd Pletcher, was making her first start since finishing second to R Angel Katelyn in the Sandpiper.