Carrera Cat pounces to win stakes debut in Union Avenue

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Sarah Mace

Stone Bridge Farm and Very Un Stable’s Carrera Cat took eight tries to break her maiden, but once she got that out of the way, the speedy 4-year-old daughter of New York sire Courageous Cat has been virtually unstoppable as she has risen through the ranks.

She upped the ante once again on Thursday when she scored a commanding victory in her stakes debut, Saratoga’s featured $100,000 Union Avenue at 6 1/2 furlongs for New York-bred fillies and mares.

Carrera Cat began her career as a turf-meant runner, placing in four of eight starts either on – or rained off – the grass. In her first “pure” dirt race at Aqueduct last November 8, she aired by four lengths in a 7-furlong state-bred maiden special weight. She improved on that performance next out on New Year’s Day, when she crushed state-bred allowance foes at the same trip by 10 1/2 lengths in the mud

Following that effort, according to trainer John Morrison, she needed some time. “As a two- and three-year-old she had a lot of minor physical issues,” said Morrison. “The race on New Year’s Day, she actually came out with a splint.” Seven weeks completely off and a total of 4 1/2 months on the bench did the trick, as it turns out.

Said Morrison, “When we started back with her, we knew we had a different horse. The time off allowed her to heal and get ahead of herself.”

Upon returning to competition, Carrera Cat won back-to-back races impressively at Belmont in May and June: a second-level state-bred allowance and first-level open allowance. In her Saratoga debut on July 17, she had a four-race win-streak snapped when she finished second by just a half-length in an open allowance. That contest is is emerging as a key race. The winner Special Relativity came back to win Saratoga’s Shine Again on July 31 and show horse that day, Talk Veuve to Me, won a competitive allowance four days ago.

The original field of eight for the Union Avenue was whittled down to six by the early scratches of Pauseforthecause and Flat Calm. On paper Baby Boss, Fair Regis and Carrera Cat promised speed, so bettors gravitated to the two inside fillies, Grade 3 winner Holiday Disguise and Bonita Bianca, winner of last year’s Union Avenue, who were both closers. They were, respectively, first and second choice at odds of 8-5 and 2-1. Carrera Cat was the third choice at 5-1.

Carrera Cat uncharacteristically stumbled at the break, but rushed into contention and settled two-wide, a length behind fellow-speedster Baby Boss who led the field.

Coglianese Photos

Keeping the pressure on through fast fractions of 22.26 and 44.67, Carrera Cat got down to real business as soon as she straightened away in the stretch. She promptly took over the top spot and drew away in the lane before crossing the wire a 2-1/4 length winner in a strong final time of 1:14.93 for 6 1/2 furlongs over the fast main track.

Holiday Disguise rallied in the stretch to out-finish Jc’s Shooting Star by a neck for second. Completing the order of finish were Fair Regis, Bonita Bianca and Baby Boss.

Maragh was pleased that Carrera Cat showed off an ability to pass horses in the Union Avenue. “We’ve been training her a lot in the morning for [coming from off the pace]. She showed in the morning she could, but in the afternoons is a different story. In her previous races, she inherited the lead because of her natural speed.

“We weren’t forced to try to hold a spot today and it worked. She loved it. She targeted the horse in front, and into the turn, she jumped onto the bridle and it felt like I had a ton of horse. She just continued on into the stretch. I just showed her the crop, I didn’t really have to tap her. She’s game today.”

Morrison, who is locally based, said, “It’s very nice to win, especially here. We targeted this race since May, so it’s very pleasing. [I told] Rajiv that she doesn’t have to have the lead. I think stumbling a little bit might have helped us a little bit, because she has a lot of high speed, and I wasn’t sure if there was anybody in here that could stay with her running. I thought she’d be better sitting off of somebody. It just worked out fine.

“I would prefer she break clean, but sometimes she breaks so sharp, you can’t get her back behind anybody. Turning for home and he’s [Maragh] looking around both ways, I felt pretty good. I know him, and I knew he had a lot of horse left.”

Bred by W. S. Farish, Carrera Cat has earned $274,856 from 13 starts, with five wins, three seconds and two thirds. She is out of Top Value, a placed Kentucky-bred daughter of Mineshaft who has produced four winners from four foals to race. Her first foal, a filly by Quality Road, is a multiple stakes performer in Canada. She has a 2-year-old filly by Big Brown named Fudge Brownie who has not yet started and a yearling filly by Quality Road.

Carrara Cat’s sire Courageous Cat (Storm Cat) entered stud at Lane’s End in 2012 before relocating in 2013 to Questroyal North in Stillwater.

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