The Leopard, a Storm Cat colt purchased for $2.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale earlier this year, scored in an impressive maiden special weight victory at Saratoga Aug. 11.
Out of Moon Safari, The Leopard was stuck on the rail behind Immortal Eyes in deep stretch before jockey John Velazquez swung the dark bay colt to the outside, caught his rival in the last 20 yards and got up in the final strides to win by a half-length in the six-furlong sprint on the main track.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, The Leopard started from post two, saved ground for most of the race, and closed steadily in the stretch before gamely earning his first victory in two starts. The 3-5 favorite paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 and completed the three-quarters in 1:09.80.
Bred in Kentucky in February 2005, The Leopard was originally bought for $1 million at the Keeneland September 2006 Yearling Sale before being sold to the partnership of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and John Magnier.
Pletcher suggested that The Leopard could be pointed to the $250,000 Futurity Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs at Belmont Sept. 15.
“I thought it was a good race and the time was fast,” Pletcher said. “Those two horses separated themselves from the third-place horse. I liked the way he finished up. It was a big effort.”