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Friday, January 18, 2002
Updated: January 22, 1:30 PM ET
Raging Fever first to the wire in First Lady

By David Grening
Daily Racing Form

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Raging Fever, who missed most of her 3-year-old season because of injury, began her 4-year-old campaign smartly on Friday, rolling to a relatively easy two-length score in the $100,000, Grade 3 The First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Cat Cay, the 3-2 favorite, rallied from last to be second, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Mandy's Gold in third. Elvi Gamble, Miss Inquistive, Curious Treasures, and Vague Memory completed the order of finish.

After bobbling at the break, Raging Fever, under John Velazquez, quickly recovered and dueled outside of Elvi Gamble through fractions of 22.03 seconds and 45.13. After she put away Elvi Gamble, Raging Fever had to withstand a challenge from Mandy's Gold turning for home. Raging Fever put her away and was never seriously challenged in the stretch.

Raging Fever, owned and bred by Edward Evans, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.36 and returned $5.20 to win.

Raging Fever won two Grade 1 races as a 2-year-old, but suffered a hind end injury after her second start as a 3-year-old. She returned to the races in December to win the Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct.

"I said it after the last race, she's training like she was in August and September of her 2-year-old year," winning trainer Mark Hennig said. "It took a while to get over that hind end problem. Now that she has, she's back to full strength."

Velazquez, who won three races on the card, was impressed with Raging Fever, whom he hadn't ridden since the second start of her 2-year-old season.

"I think she tried to outbreak herself and kind of stumbled the first jump," Velazquez said. "She broke and I put my hands down and she was nice and easy and wasn't all speed crazy. When I asked her, whoosh. It's nice to ride those."

Hennig scratched Gold Mover, who was only entered in case something happened to Raging Fever. Both horses could run in the Shirley Jones on Feb. 15.