- OK, so there I am, somewhere in this picture of the scene in the paddock before Highland Cat’s debut race at
“Don’t get left, don’t get left,” I muttered as we awaited the start. And though he broke in the middle of the pack, it wasn’t long before he had retreated to last, not looking particularly smooth nor comfortable. By the quarter pole, he was three lengths behind the second-to-last horse, around seven or eight from the front. This was a disappointment, because if nothing else, we thought the colt had some good early pop out of the gate.
He passed third choice Electrical Storm as they went around the turn and swung into the stretch pretty wide. In the meantime, Great Point, the $450,000 Point Given colt, had taken command of the race and was on his way to a dominant 8 ¾ length win. Castellano took Highland Cat towards the rail (or perhaps it was the other way around) and he started to gain, passing tiring horses; by midstretch it seemed like a piece of the purse was possible. He drove up on the inside of Folk Festival as I urged him to “get third, get third.” The girls were into it too, and when he passed the tiring third choice, they were jumping up and down as if we’d won instead of finishing some 14 lengths back. The Head Chef had Highland Cat across the board, and thought she was going to win some money.
So all in all, it was a pretty great day. Highland Cat got the racing experience that Turner generally uses debut races for and showed some grit under adverse circumstances racing without a shoe. The $4300 slice of the purse, less the jockey fee, less the trainer fee, less the managing partner fee, less the 1% that Castle Village always donates to thoroughbred retirement causes, should be enough to pay expenses for a month, perhaps. It was a memorable day for the girls as well as for me. Here’s a few more photos:
Highland Cat arrives under the watchful eye of trainer Billy Turner.
Turner tells Javier Castellano "whatever you do, don't let him throw a front shoe at the start."
Highland Cat shows his poise in the paddock despite the big weekend crowd at