By Alan Porter
The race for the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), one of the first major West Coast classic trials of the year, looked as if it might lie between two stakes-winning sons of Tiznow . American Lion had won two of three starts in 2009, including the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) on his final start at 2, and Tiz Chrome was 2-for-2 as a juvenile, including a four-length win in the Stuka Stakes.
Indeed, much of the race was a battle between American Lion and Tiz Chrome, as the two dueled through the first three-quarters. However, lurking behind the paternal half-brothers was the Cal-bred gelding Caracortado. At the head of the stretch, the son of Cat Dreams unleashed an explosive finishing kick, shooting away for a 1 3/4-length win over the late-closing Dave in Dixie, as American Lion held on to third. The 1:41.75 final time for the 8 1/2-furlong trip was the fastest of the meet to date.
Caracortado, who was bred by his trainer and part-owner, Mike Machowsky, has come a long way since he began his career with a win in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Fairplex Park. That was the only time he was entered for a tag, and he rounded out his juvenile season with wins in a pair of Hollywood Park allowance events and a two-turn victory in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. Incidentally, Caracortado is a May 7 foal–younger by far than any of his Robert B. Lewis opponents–and so may have more than usual improvement left in him.
While American Lion and Tiz Chrome are by Tiznow, who is now one of our most sought-after classic sires, Caracortado is a son of Cat Dreams, likely an unfamiliar name to most. It’s a reflection of how fast things change in this business that as youngsters, Tiznow would have been viewed as a Cal-bred with an unfashionable pedigree, where Cat Dreams’ background would have been considered near the height of commercial fashion.
A son of Storm Cat out of millionaire J J’sdream, Cat Dreams was a $475,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2002. Running for B. Wayne Hughes, he looked as if was going to turn out to be well worth his purchase price when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs by eight lengths on his debut at 2. Unfortunately, Cat Dreams then suffered an injury that proved to be career-ending, and he retired to stand in California. He sired 40 foals in his first crop and 30 in his second, the crop from which Caracortado comes. It became harder to maintain interest in a once-raced stallion in the next two years, and after moving within California, Cat Dreams’ new Tommy Town Thoroughbreds connections started looking for a new home for the horse.
At the same time, Tom Roche was reconsidering plans for Storm Account, the Storm Cat son he had acquired to stand at Still Creek Farm in Indiana. When it became clear that Storm Account had completely recovered from the injury that had halted his racing career, he was returned to training—leaving the Roches with mares that they had acquired to fit a Storm Cat horse, and no stallion. When Still Creek’s Lesalene Pompell received a call from Cat Dreams’ connections, inquiring if she knew anyone that was looking for a Storm Cat stallion, it seemed a perfect fit, and Cat Dreams moved to Still Creek Farm for 2010. Advertised at a modest $1,500 for the coming breeding season—and with 16 runners from his first 38 starters, including Caracortado in the headlines—he should be popular in his region.
Caracortado has already shown that he can deliver a powerful finish going 8 1/2 furlongs, so the question is, can he stretch out that extra furlong and a half? Cat Dreams isn’t guaranteed to be an influence for stamina. Dam J J’sdream captured her six graded victories at six and seven furlongs, although she was runner-up in a grade II at a mile. She is by Glitterman, who was generally an influence for speed. In tail-female line she goes back to a sister to Horse of the Year Nashua. Her dam Thwack is a half-sister to the dams of Preakness (gr. I) victor Louis Quatorze and Wildcat Heir, record-breaking freshman sire by number of winners.
Caracortado’s dam, Mons Venus, never ran, but she is by Maria’s Mon, who sired Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos in his first crop. A half-sister to the Bay Meadows Lassie Stakes winner Jaded Pleasure, Mons Venus is out of Bid to the Mint, a daughter of Key to the Mint, who won the Travers Stakes and Suburban Handicap (gr. I) at 10 furlongs and the Woodward Stakes at 12 furlongs. Caracortado’s third dam, Cautious Bidder, was a fast and precocious mare who won seven of 12 starts, with five of those wins coming at 2, and including the Hollywood Lassie, Cygnet, Debutante, and Bewitch Stakes. At stud, Cautious Bidder produced three stakes performers, the best of which was the J.O. Tobin colt Overtrump, twice group-placed at 2 in England, and winner of the Hoist the Flag and Buckpasser Stakes in the U.S.
Caracortado (TrueNicks rated A++) follows English group winner Raymi Coya and stakes winners Bear Holiday and Forestry Steel, as the fourth stakes winner by a Storm Cat-line stallion out of a Maria’s Mon mare. Since Maria’s Mon’s daughters have so far produced just eight stakes winners, this is a cross that bears watching. The other aspect that caught our eye with this pedigree is the combination of Storm Cat’s broodmare sire, Secretariat (by Bold Ruler out of a Princequillo mare) with Bold Bidder (by Bold Ruler with a second dam by Princequillo). This pairing appears to be an effective one, and stakes winners with Storm Cat in the sire and Bold Bidder in the dam appears nearly 50 times already.