Ken Ramsey, in an effort to gain stature for the stallion Catienus
, will run his son Nolan's Cat in the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), even though the colt is still a maiden after five starts.
Nolan's Cat has finished second three times and third once, and was recently beaten a half-length by the D. Wayne Lukas-trained A.P. Arrow, who also has designs on the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.
"Our plan right now is to run in the Belmont," said Ramsey, who owns and bred Nolan's Cat with his wife Sarah. "We were disappointed that he had to be quarantined for three weeks in Florida because of the strangles outbreak. That really set us back and crippled our operation. The plan was that we'd win a mile and an eighth maiden race down there, then come to New York for an allowance race.
"Although A.P. Arrow beat him a half-length in a mile and a quarter maiden race (at Churchill Downs), I look at the Ragozin Sheets to see who ran the best race. We got a '9 3/4,' and the winner an '11 1/2.' He was on the lead and skimmed rail and we had to go wide. If we could have gotten two more five-furlong works under his belt it would have made the difference. We never entertained running in the (grade I) Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but his running style and pedigree should fit him perfectly going a mile and a half.
"I really don't think we have a shot of winning, but he's by our own sire, and I've got the mother, the brother, and the sister, and even if he can finish third it would really improve the family. I would consider that a success. If he's worse than third then we shouldn't have run him. I don't think he can beat Afleet Alex, who was my pick to win the Derby, and even though his final times by our system puts him even with Giacomo, we probably can't beat him either, based on his class advantage. But the way he closes, it would be a big reward if he can finish third. I'll probably get some flak for running a maiden in the Belmont, but I think it's worth the $20,000 to take a chance, and I can handle the heat. I normally would never do this; I've never run a maiden in a grade I stakes. But if Lukas doesn't get any flak for running A.P. Arrow, who only beat us a half-length, they shouldn't be too hard on me. And if we can pull off a monumental upset and this horse becomes another Sarava I won't look so dumb."
Belmont definites at this point are Afleet Alex, Giacomo, Andromeda's Hero, Pinpoint, Chekhov, Nolan's Cat, A.P. Arrow, and Southern Africa. Possibles include Scrappy T, Reverberate, and Watchmon.