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Friday, February 24, 2006

Highland Cat To Get A Taste

- It’s a pretty tough spot for Highland Cat (Tactical Cat) in the second at the Big A on Saturday. For new readers, he's one of the horses I own a small piece of through Castle Village Farm; some background on him is in this post. One thing for sure is that he’ll hear his name announced as having an "equipment" change – he’s listed as a colt in the Racing Form and the NYRA entries, but was gelded after his last start on December 2. He’s moving back up to maiden specials, a show of confidence by Bill Turner, who has only one win in 32 starts in 2006, and a reputation from bringing horses around slowly. Highland Cat has four listed works, including a pretty decent half in :49 2/5 on Tuesday (6/27). He’ll have to move his speed figures forward big time to compete in this race. At least the presence of Great Point and Flashy Bull in his pp lines gives him a little street cred.

Tasteyville (With Approval) seems strictly the one to beat. He’s run well against some tough colts in his last two, finishing third to Scanlon’s Song (who will make his second career start in the third) and Marco Bay, a subsequent graduate by nine lengths; and second by a neck to Jazil, Kiaran McLaughlin’s well-bred colt who ran second to Corinthian at Gulfstream. I love his female family; his second dam is Toll Fee, a half-sister to Plugged Nickle; and here’s another one inbred to Buckpasser, 3x4 in this case. He didn’t run well on the turf earlier in his career, but I think he’ll eventually end up trying it again. The one big question about Tasteyville is that his trainer Pat Kelly is even colder than Turner, at 1 for 50 in 2006.

Madison Blues (Sultry Song) stretches out for John Terranova; he was 80-1 in his debut, and gained ground in the stretch when finishing 7th. He’s also inbred to Buckpasser (4x4), and he has tons of turf horses in his distaff family, including French Grade 1 winners Hernando and Johann Quartz. His third dam is the extremely well-named Pass A Glance (Buckpasser-Come Hither Look).

Clear the Way (Littlebitlively) has shown Beyer improvement, but tries two turns for the first time. He’s out of multiple graded stakes winner Wood So, and a half to a couple of minor stakes winners.

Darley has an entry of typically well-bred colts, but one of them, Botany Bay (Storm Cat), has been a disaster on the track in two tries. Scots Pine (Forestry) has shown early speed, but tires from his efforts and finished four lengths behind Tasteyville in the Jazil race.

All Play (Thunder Gulch) was three behind Tasteyville in the Scanlon’s Song race.

One guy who could be scary if he draws in from the AE list is Santa’s Special (Marquetry). He’s shown ability in two sprint tries for the Pedersen/Paragallo team and stretches out here. Who knows, if he wins his owner might say he’s as good as Achilles of Troy too.

This race doesn’t seem quite as tough as it did on first glance. There are some expensive colts from high-profile outfits that have fired blanks, especially a Lukas entry of colts by Giant’s Causeway and Storm Cat, both beaten very badly in each of their four combined starts. The only real proven commodity is Tasteyville, who I think will be hard to beat. Madison Blues is intriguing, but may be meant for grass later on. I still think that Highland Cat belongs on the grass; it seems obvious from watching his races that he backs away from dirt in the face. Perhaps the addition of blinkers and his gelding will help him stay closer and more focused; he’s reported to be doing very well since his return from the farm. But realistically, I’d have to be thrilled to get a piece of the purse.

- Another thing to keep in mind is that the Castle Village partnership is in a seemingly eternal slump – they haven’t been to the winner’s circle since Angel Dancer won on September 21. There have been many seconds and thirds, including a second by Introspect in a NY-bred stakes last weekend. That's probably enough to pay the bills, but it’s been a long drought as far as the top spot goes. It would be an upset if Highland Cat breaks that streak.

[UPDATE: Castle Village's Fighting Speedy won the 7th at Aqueduct on Thursday. So much for that losing streak!]


thecalicocat said...

15 to 1 on HC.
But he is very cute.

Tote Board Brad said...

Tastyville is out!