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Friday, May 26, 2006

Highland Cat a Rat No More

- Thanks to all who wrote in about Highland Cat’s second place finish today. It had gotten to the point where I doubted that I’d ever hear Tom Durkin use the words “charging through” to describe in Highland Cat in the final furlong of a race.

I shuddered when I walked into Saratoga Harness with around 15 minutes and saw rain coming down at Belmont, but “Fast” and “Firm” was all I needed to know. Jan Rushton said that he had the best turf breeding in the field, but his odds went steadily up from there, from 8-1 to his 16-1 post time price.

As they loaded into the gate, I was hoping for small things. Like ‘don’t be last.’ That seemed like a good place to start. And indeed, he broke alertly, and for the first time, assumed a contending position instead of dropping steadily backwards. Good job by Pablo Fragoso getting him over to the rail for the first turn. He stayed there, in 5th behind the second flight, as they went into the turn, and here is where I almost lost hope.

He appeared, for a moment, to start to make his familiar retreat; Lunenburg passed him by, and the Head Chef and I both sighed “oh no” out loud. But suddenly, he started to move, split horses into the stretch, then appeared to hang again a bit, but then found his best stride. I was particularly impressed by the way he responded to the challenge of Broadway Bud, who seemed threatening for a moment. A guy behind me was cheering for Broadway Bud loudly. But there was no way he was getting past Highland Cat, not even if they went the proverbial one more time around. And they came home the last furlong in a more-than-respectable 12.33 seconds.

I’m interested in hearing what Fragoso had to say, wondering if perhaps they had some traffic problems behind the two horses in front of him around the turn. Once the hole opened up, he moved through pretty handily. He still seems a little green, but showed a lot of competitiveness, and the Castle Village message board is lit up with partners who are very relieved, having recently received the cash call. Hope springs eternal for sure when a horse wakes up on the turf in May. There’s a full summer of grass racing ahead, including Saratoga, so, with luck, lots and lots of luck, he’ll provide some exciting summer days ahead.

I’m particularly glad to read that some readers made a little money on the race, way to go! As for me, I’m just not a place and show guy; I would have had a nice score had he won. But the Head Chef got back $20.70 for the two bucks across the board.

2 Comments:

Green Mtn Punter said...

Congrats, Alan, on Highland Cat's big race yesterday at Belmont! Do you think being at The Spa to see the simulcast brought additional good luck?! And the Head Chef had the good sense to bet him across the board! How does the old Bob Dylan song go,"...she's the brains behind Pa."!

alan said...

Oh, she's the brains all right! Among other things! Being at the Spa may have helped; perhaps it's a sign of things to come this August!