Courageous Cat , last seen finishing a close second to champion Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), stalked the early pace before taking the lead in midstretch and then held off a late challenge to win the Canadian Turf Cup (gr. IIT) by a head at Gulfstream Park Feb. 20 (VIDEO) .
Settled into second by jockey Garrett Gomez, the Martin and Pam Wygod homebred trained by Bill Mott stalked Jet Propulsion early before taking over in the stretch. The 4-year-old son of Storm Cat held off the late challenge of Cherokee Artist as the 9-10 favorite. Jet Propulsion held on for third as they completed the mile on turf in 1:31.58.
The victory was the fourth in the ninth career start for Courageous Cat, who has now earned $661,300. The colt is a full brother to grade I winner After Market and a half-brother to grade II winner Jalil. He previously won the Hall of Fame (gr. IIT) at Saratoga before finishing third in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) prior to his Breeders’ Cup date.
"We were really excited with him coming back as well as he’s been training for the last month, although you are always a little concerned about their first race back," Mott said. "The race developed about the way we expected, although I thought there might be another horse to go with the pacesetter (Jet Propulsion). He did get a little tired toward the end, which was to be expected after the layoff, but he was able to go on and win."
Mott said there is a possibility Courageous Cat will be sent to Dubai to contest the March 27 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I).
"The plan was to follow two horses, but the inside horse (Le Grand Cru) really didn’t go and I felt like I was in a tactical spot and could take control of the race when I needed to," Gomez explained. "He was getting a little tired when (Cherokee Artist) came up to him, but he dug in, and even galloping out that horse never got by him. That’s a good sign. He’s a three-year-old just turning four, and last year he really started to come into his own, and for a comeback race I thought it was impressive."
In another grade III mile turf stake on the Feb. 20 card at Gulfstream, Wasted Tears made all the running to win the Honey Fox for fillies and mares, getting the final time in :133.81 (VIDEO). Quiet Harbor and Akilina finished second and third, respectively.
Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez for owner-breeder-trainer Bart Evans, the 5-year-old daughter of Najran improved to eight wins in 13 starts. She previously accounted for the Ouija Board Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Lone Star Park.
"It is special when you breed, own and train them yourself," Evans said. "It’s like one of your kids doing good. I was the first one ever on her back. I was concerned when she went :22 and change (first quarter), but then she got to slow it down the second (quarter) to :46 and change, and she was doing it well within herself. She came up with a staph infection in her spine after her last race at Lone Star in May, and that took some time to get over, but she’s come back better than ever. I don’t know what’s next. There is a race in Tampa I’ll consider."
"She wanted to go the lead and got there easy," said winning jockey Velasquez. "She doesn’t stop; she just keeps going. A couple of fillies in the race tried to come at her, but my filly finishes well and never stops trying."
Eddie Castro, who was aboard Quiet Harbor, a Silver Deputy mare seeking her sixth consecutive win, said, "My horse made a big run, but the winner just got away from all of us early."