His recent form had been poor but Stream Cat turned things around when given extra ground in the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup Handicap (gr. III) at 12 furlongs, spoiling the return to action of heavy favorite Big Booster at Santa Anita March 28.
Ridden by Joe Talamo, the 6-year-old son of Black Minnaloushe seized the lead from Kizzy's Chaos mid-stretch and held the steadily closing Big Booster off by a neck. Stream Cat raced without blinkers.
Stream Cat's last win came in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) on grass July 12 when he was in the barn of George Arnold II. The Tokyo City Cup score provided trainer Patrick Biancone with just his second triumph in 50 starters at the meet. Biancone's other victory came with Nownownow in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) in January.
‘’Going longer, I wanted him to relax quicker, and sometimes, on older horses when you take off the blinkers, it’s roughly the same effect as when you put (on) the blinkers," Biancone said in explaining the decision. "You change their style, you know ? Joe rode a perfect race."
The 6-5 choice in the field of seven, Big Booster was making his first start since his narrow defeat in the Breeders' Cup Marathon over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride racing surface more than five months ago.
Zappa and Kizzy's Chaos left the gate like they were in a sprint as Stream Cat was taken back and Big Booster, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, dropped out to last. The front-runners slowed it down after creating a seven or eight-length gap on the rest of the field while posting a :47.76 opening half-mile. But as the competitors headed down the homestretch for the first time, they raced in single file with about 15 lengths separating the pacesetting Zappa and the trailing Big Booster. Fractions were more modest for six furlongs (1:13.56) and the mile (1:39.61) and by then, Zappa was shortening up, soon relinquishing the lead to Kizzy's Chaos and Martin Garcia, who took over after 10 furlongs were completed in 2:05.62.
Kizzy's Chaos continued to show the way into the stretch as Stream Cat, angled out around the final turn by Talamo, took aim on the leader. Stream Cat collared Kizzy's Chaos and kicked clear at the eighth pole. He was forced to dig in deep under strong urging from his rider as Big Booster, advancing down the center of track for Bejarano, made it close in the final strides. The final time was an unimpressive 2:31.92.
“I knew there was a good pace," Talamo said. "My horse switched leads real nice when we turned down the backside and I was able to get through on the inside all the way into the far turn. I knew Big Booster was going to be coming, so at the quarter pole, I wanted to kick away from him and hold on if I could. It worked out great.”
Two lengths separated the first two from third-place finisher Medjool, who rallied mildly for Michael Baze. Then came Fire Wood, who was two lengths farther back, followed by Kizzy's Chaos, Dynamalt and Zappa.
Stream Cat has rarely been asked to run 12 furlongs, although he performed well at the distance in the Stars and Stripes (gr. IIIT) on the Arlington turf In July 2007, closing strongly to finish third on soft going. The dark bay gelding has enjoyed most his success on the grass, where he has four of 10 starts. His form had been off since his last win at Arlington, his best showing prior to his victory here coming in a third-place finish on Keeneland's Polytrack in the Fayette Stakes (gr. III) Oct. 25. He was coming off a 10th-place showing in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 7.
"(Stream Cat) ran a good race in the Santa Anita Handicap," Biancone insisted, noting he was beaten only seven lengths by Einstein that day. "We’ll see (about what’s next). He likes this track, he’s coming back in form. Two years ago, he nearly won the Arlington Million (finishing fourth by one length in 2007), so maybe we’ll take a shot for that later on.’’
The victory was his seventh in 22 lifetime starts and boosted his earnings to $705,610 with the winning purse of $60,000. The winning owners are Fabian Marceau Ouaki's Fab Oak Stable, Robert Hurley and John Goldthorp.
Out of the Irish River mare Water Course, Stream Cat was bred in Kentucky by Matthews Breeding and Racing Ltd.
Sent off as the third choice, Stream Cat carried 116 pounds and paid $11.40, $4.20 and $3.40. Big Booster, winner of last year's San Juan Capistrano (gr. IIT), returned $2.80 and $2.40 while toting top weight of 119. The $2 exacta was worth $27. Medjool, making his first start for trainer John O'Hara, was $6.40 to show.