Two days prior to the $110,100 Discovery Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO), Wishful Tomcat's trainer, Gary Contessa, made no secret of what his strategy would be in the Nov. 22 race.
“He’s got speed and he grew the rail; so come and get us,” Contessa said at the time.
Contessa’s plan worked to perfection in the nine-furlong event, as Ramon Dominguez hustled Wishful Tomcat to the early lead and they never looked back, the duo leading every step of the way in posting a 1 3/4-length victory on Aqueduct’s main track. The final time on a frigid New York afternoon was 1:53.28.
That’srightofficer, who briefly challenged the pacesetter in upper stretch but could close no ground, settled for second under Edgar Prado. Ready Set was third.
Wishful Tomcat entered the Discovery with four victories in his last five starts, but this was his first graded stakes score. The 3-year-old son of Tactical Cat is owned by Winter Park Partners.
“He has a heart of gold,” Contessa said of Wishful Tomcat, who has notched three consecutive wins. “I would like to see him dominate stakes races here this winter. It’s extra cold today; maybe it will push out the Florida trainers sooner.”
Just as he did when taking the John’s Gold Stakes last out on the Belmont turf, Wishful Tomcat shot right to the front in the Discovery, outrunning Web Gem and Lieutenant Ron to the first turn. The chestnut ridgling was pressed by those two through soft fractions of :24.23, :48.66, and 1:14.24.
Wishful Tomcat turned for home with a two-length lead and still had more to give. That’srightofficer loomed the biggest threat after splitting horses along the inside at the top of the lane, but the Richard Schosberg trainee never made a serious bid for the front.
“We wanted to take advantage of his post position and his tactical speed,” Dominguez said. “Gary Contessa knew the horse to the outside (Lieutenant Ron) had speed. I found myself in front and just let him roll. I didn’t know how much horse I was going to have turning for home, but when I asked him, he re-broke all over again and finished up full of run.”
Bred in New York by Anthony Grey, Wishful Tomcat is out of the Lord At War mare Holy Wish. The late-bloomer now has five wins in 11 starts after taking six tries to break his maiden. He has earned $280,509.
Sent off as the fourth choice in a field of seven, Wishful Tomcat paid $16.20, $7.50, and $5. The exacta (1-3) returned $75.50, while the trifecta (1-3-4) was worth $326.50.
Coach Shaw finished fourth, followed by Lieutenant Ron, Premium Gold, and Web Gem. Big Truck was scratched.