February 20, 2010

One Courageous Cat

My favorite turf horse returned today at Gulfstream Park and earned a hard fought victory in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park. His name is Courageous Cat, and he certainly lives up to his name. Last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, where he ran second to the great French mare Goldikova, Courageous Cat showed no ill effects from the three and a half month layoff. He stalked a fast pace, as he normally does, pounced as the field straightened out and was very game in holding off a spirited rally by longshot Cherokee Artist to win by a head. A good enough return race for the Bill Mott trainee until you consider the final time. The one mile race on the lawn was run in 1:31.58. Horses simply can not run a flat mile much faster than that, and in fact, the race was less than one fifth of a second behind the world record for the distance. The Gulfstream Park turf course is playing fast, but for a return race, and one in which he was giving the field weight, it was most impressive.

Coglianese Photo

I first time I saw this colt, was last Summer at Belmont Park, where I was impressed with both his physical look, as well as his quick burst of speed. Courageous Cat is an attractive bay with three white stockings and a long white blaze that stretches all the way down his nose. What I saw that first day, when he broke his maiden on the grass, was a horse who could run fast early and then explode into another gear to put his competition away. He was placed directly into stakes races after the maiden score, and he continued to impress. He won an overnight stake at Belmont, shading 1:40 for a 1 1/16 in the process, before easily annexing the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga. That day he ran 1:45.90 for the nine furlongs. His three race skein was broken in the Grade 1 Jamaica, where he steadied, when the real running began and was beaten by the classy Take the Points by ¾ of a length. In that defeat, he showed a lot of heart as he re-rallied, after he looked like he was out of the race. On Breeders’ Cup Day, Courageous Cat made a name for himself. He knocked on the door of stardom when he surged to the lead at the eighth pole before succumbing to the irresistible rush of Goldikova. Ignored that afternoon at nearly 23-1, he was the best performing of my longshot selections in the BC races, and I will be a fan of his for the duration.

Ridden for the second consecutive time by Garrett Gomez, today’s victory was Courageous Cat’s fourth win in seven career starts on the grass. It marked his third stakes win and second graded stakes tally. So far, so good for the impeccably bred son of Storm Cat and Tranquility Lake. A homebred for Pam and Martin Wygod, Courageous Cat is very lightly raced and still on the improve. If he remains healthy, he will give the American side a wonderful opportunity to reclaim the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs. A task made all the taller by the fact that the two-time defending champion Goldikova is preparing to begin her five-year-old season and another raid on our Breeders’ Cup. Can he beat her? Only time will tell, but now a year older and with more experience there for the offing, I think he just may be the horse to take down the French Superstar. He has courage, and he has speed. He is…One Courageous Cat.


Ciarán said...

can he beat her? no he can't! but good luck to him. if she doesnt train on he'll have a chance.

Brian Zipse said...

Spoken like a true Euro homer (LOL)...we shall see Ciarán, we shall see.

Ciarán said...

this yr Goldikova and Sea the Stars were my flagship horses for my betting. Goldie let me down once but it was just unfortunate the way she was ridden in the Prix de la Foret, but these things will happen in racing. If i bet on them, it means they're good! and she is a fave...bring it America!

Anonymous said...

Goldikova's BC race also produced the Tampa Bay Stakes winner Karelian(over Gio Ponti).

Brian Zipse said...

Challenge accepted!

Very true RG, that was quite a surprise and quite a stretch run.

LDP said...

Well I think we'll have a very nice miler cast this year. Court Vision is exceptional at a mile, Kalarien can throw in a nice performance and then you have CC who is fast as a cheeta! I can't wait to see his next race, he really is spectacular.