Fans at Gulfstream Park were treated to an exciting finish in the feature race on "reopening" day Saturday as Katinka edged Surprise Wedding by a head bob to take the $100,000 Miss Gracie Stakes.
The 7 1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old Florida bred fillies was the capstone of the track's first day of live racing since Labor Day as Gulfstream, like most of South Florida, shuttered for Hurricane Irma. Thirteen races were on Saturday's card, but none produced as an exciting of a finish as the Miss Gracie.
Katinka, who broke from the far outside post, and Surprise Wedding sat off early leader Princess Victoria, who set a very slow pace leading the eight horse field through the opening half mile in 50.40 seconds.
In the far turn, Princess Victoria backed out and Katinka and Surprise Wedding dueled to the wire as favorite Gran Cherry made a furious late run. The charge came too late and the race was left to be decided between the leaders with Katinka getting her head down first as the duo went under the wire. The time of the race was 1:31.23.
Trainer Michael Yates said he initially did not think his filly got the win but was pleased with what he saw in the photo. Yates was also pleased with how Katinka won the race. Normally a lead seeking filly, the instructions given to jockey Leonel Reyes was to rate if she could not make the lead.
"We didn't want to use her up early because we were outside," Yates said. "If she was able to make the lead on her own, fine. We took the blinkers off of her today hoping she would settle and she did."
There was one other stakes race on Saturday's card. Favorite Mama Joyce drew clear of the field in the final furlong to win the $50,000 Sea of Grass Stakes, giving jockey Edgard Zayas his third win on the day. Mama Joyce covered the mile race in 1:38.89. Lirica and She Takes Heart finished in order behind.