Whoopi Cat was considered one of the East's leading juvenile fillies for a brief period last summer, but a foot abscess unexpectedly ended her season.Although she has lost both of her races this year, both times against top company, Whoopi Cat will be odds-on to win Saturday's $100,000-added Cicada (gr. III) over seven furlongs at Aqueduct. Whoopi Cat was one of seven 3-year-old fillies entered in the Cicada, the co-feature on a 10-race card that includes the $200,000 Gotham (gr. III). A daughter of Tale of the Cat, Whoopi Cat debuted in July at Belmont Park and easily won her first race. Four weeks later, she displayed heart and determination when winning the Adirondack (gr. II) at Saratoga. That was last race for more than five months."It took her a long time to recover from that," said trainer Patrick Biancone from California, referring to the foot injury.
In hindsight, it was probably asking a lot of Whoopi Cat to compete in Santa Anita's Santa Ynez (gr. II) on January 19, her first start in 21 weeks. She finished a well-beaten sixth. Nearly a month later, she finished fifth at 34-1 behind A.P. Adventure in the Las Virgenes (gr. I). Admittedly disappointed with the season thus far, Biancone, is looking forward to running against softer competition in the Cicada."This looks like a good race to take a shot in," said Biancone, who will also saddle Pomeroy in Saturday's Gotham. "I'm hoping she can get back into form. I really liked the way she worked before she left for New York."Whoopi Cat, who arrived at the Big A late Wednesday afternoon with Pomeroy, worked five furlongs at Santa Anita Monday morning in 1:02 1/5, handily. Jockey Mike Smith, one of New York's top jockeys of the 1990s before moving to California, has the mount from post 4. Whoopi Cat carries 116 pounds, six less than highweighted stakes winners Among My Souvenirs and Baldomera. With a swift late kick, Among My Souvenirs has won her first three races, two of them stakes. She undoubtedly made a favorable impression in her first local start, the Feb. 14 Dearly Precious. She won the race by a widening length and a half."The Dearly Precious was her best race and I really liked," said trainer Tony Dutrow, who has had his fair share of talented young fillies over the last few seasons. "The way she has finished leads me to believe the extra furlong will suit her. She has trained fantastically since the Dearly Precious. I'm really looking forward to Saturday."
Among My Souvenirs, a daughter of Souvenir Copy owned by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, drew post 7 under jockey Mario Pino.Padua Stable's Bohemian Lady won her first two races over the winter, but suffered her first defeat at the hands of Among My Souvenirs in the Dearly Precious. Trained by Todd Pletcher, who will be in New York to saddle Deputy Storm in the Gotham, Bohemian Lady should be part of the pace under jockey Edgar Prado. Pletcher is aiming for an unprecedented third Cicada victory. He won it in 1998 with Jersey Girl and again in 2002 with Proper Gamble.$100,000 Cicada Stakes (gr. III), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Baldomera, Guadalupe Preciado, Harry Vega, 122
2. She's A Mugs, Nick Zito, Aaron Gryder, 116
3. Bohemian Lady, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 116
4. Whoopi Cat, Patrick Biancone, Mike Smith, 116
5. Freeroll, Mark Hennig, Javier Castellano, 116
6. Whirlwind Charlott, John Dowd, Victor Molina, 116
7. Among My Souvenirs, Tony Dutrow, Mario Pino, 122