Undefeated Cat Moves, who became a grade I winner in just her third start when she landed the Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park last month, is the one to beat in the $300,000 Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 8.
Edward P. Evan's Virginia homebred daughter of Tale of the Cat faces seven 3-year-old fillies in the seven-furlong event. The race precedes the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) on the program. Besides the favorite, two other fillies in the Test ran in the six-furlong Prioress — third-place finisher Reforestation and Heart Ashley, who tired to sixth after setting a wicked pace.
John Velazquez takes over for Ramon Dominguez on Cat Moves. Dominguez had ridden the bay filly in all three of her prior races. Cat Moves, trained by the sizzling Anthony Dutrow, breaks from post 2 and will shoulder high weight of 122 pounds.
In the first week at Saratoga, Dutrow had three wins, a second and three thirds with seven starters.
“Once we saw she was promising, we did not run her as a 2-year-old,” said Dutrow, discussing Cat Move's belated debut in April at Aqueduct. “Her ankles were a little immature. Had she been of average ability, we would have run her. We knew she was more than average, so we decided to give her some time and let her mature. It’s an investment that has paid off very well.
“She’s so calm and professional,” said Dutrow. “Her first race, she acted as if she had done this a million times. Winning a grade I was our goal, and having done that, I feel so fortunate to be able to participate in the Test Stakes, because the racing world holds it in such high esteem.”
After romping to wins in her first two starts this spring, Cat Moves was making her stakes debut in the Prioress. She overcame a significant amount of trouble to win by three-quarters of a length over Light Green, a second Evans homebred from the Todd Pletcher barn who is skipping the Test. Cat Moves lunged in the air at the break, recovered to race mid-pack, and was wide all the way around Belmont's sweeping turn before rallying four wide. The final time was a smart 1:08.65 over a fast strip.
Part of the reason Cat Moves was able to rally so effectively was the blistering pace (:21.56 and :44.01) set by Heart Ashley while getting pressure. The Zayat Stables-owned daughter of Lion Heart is likely to face more heat from Godolphin's Flashing, who is back at a more comfortable distance after taking on Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) last time out.
Heart Ashley and Flashing both won stakes sprinting prior to their last starts. Heart Ashley, trained by Steve Asmussen, captured the Adena Stallions Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico. Flashing, an A.P. Indy filly conditioned by Saaed bin Suroor, took the Nassau County Stakes (gr. III) on a sloppy track at Belmont.
Reforestation ran a big race in the Prioress at 48-1, finishing three lengths behind Cat Moves. Trainer Bill Turner Jr. is hoping the Forestry miss can continue to improve. She has finished in the money in her past six starts.
“We don’t know how good Cat Moves is,” Turner said, “but we know we belong.”
One to watch from off the pace will be First Passage, who won the Azalea (gr. III) for trainer Marty Wolfson July 11 at Calder. The daughter of Giant's Causeway has won three races in a row, all in stakes at Calder.
New York-bred Olde Glamour comes into the Test with three wins and six seconds in her past nine starts, mostly against state breds. She won Belmont's Jersey Girl on the front end against four rivals in her last start July 15.
All of Her Twist and Pretty Prolific ran one-two in the Dearly Precious on a fast track at Monmouth Park July 18.
$300,000 Test Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Pretty Prolific (KY), R Albarado, 116, J E Baker
2. Cat Moves (VA), J R Velazquez, 122, A W Dutrow
3. Olde Glamour (NY), M J Luzzi, 116, F Martin, Sr.
4. Heart Ashley (KY), E S Prado, 118, S M Asmussen
5. First Passage (KY), A Garcia, 118, M D Wolfson
6. Flashing (KY), R Migliore, 118, S bin Suroor
7. Reforestation (KY), E Coa, 116, W H Turner, Jr.
8. All of Her Twist (KY), R Maragh, 116, K J Breen