By Karen Johnson
Trainer Tony Dutrow modestly took himself out of the equation whenasked what his role has been in the development of the undefeated CatMoves, the morning-line favorite in Today’s Grade I, $300,000 TestStakes.
Dutrow, who trains the daughter of Tale Of The Cat for her breeder, Ned Evans, said after Cat Moves won an allowance race at Delaware Park in June, he knew it was all about her.
“I was like, ‘Wow. This has nothing to do with me.’ And then at that point, I realized the first race had nothing to do with me, either,” Dutrow said. “It has nothing to do with anyone but her and the mind she possesses.”
Cat Moves, among eight 3-year-old fillies entered in the 7-furlong Test, has a flawless record from three starts. She won her career debut by a whopping 8 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct in April. She led from start to finish in the 6-furlong race, while reeling off rapid fractions of 21 2/5, 44, and 56 2/5. The final time was 1:10.
Dutrow said he watched the race with an uneasy feeling.
“When she ran the first time, and she was in front, running very fast, I was just like, ‘Oh, God. I hope this filly isn’t ruined.’ I had her ready and I was very happy with the way she was prepared for her first race. But then when I was watching the race, by the time they got to the three-eighths pole, I was just, ‘Man, what did I do here? Such a good filly; did I ruin her?’ She just continued fast the whole way around there. I’m not exaggerating – I was just beside myself.”
Dutrow breathed a sigh of relief after the race when Cat Moves didn’t exhibit any signs of being rattled following her auspicious debut.
“Instantly after the race, when she was cooling out, she was just level in every way,” Dutrow said. “She was just fantastic in every way. When we put her back in training . . . just perfect, settled, and nice.”
Following the maiden victory, Cat Moves won an allowance race at Delaware Park. This time, the filly demonstrated the ability to rate. Stalking in third position for a half-mile, Cat Moves shook off her four rivals and powered home an easy winner.
That effort had her ready for her stakes debut in the Grade I Prioress at Belmont Park on July 4. She was even farther off the pace than she was in Delaware – 7 1/2 lengths behind the early leader, Heart Ashley, during a first quarter-mile run in a brisk 21 2/5. Cat Moves was up in time for a three-quarter-length win over Light Green in the 6-furlong Prioress.
You might think Dutrow would be excited about running his undefeated filly in the Test, which in 83 runnings has been won by some of racing’s best including, but not limited to, Indian Blessing, Go For Wand, Safely Kept and Lady’s Secret.
But the ever-cautious Dutrow is not chomping at the bit, and that has nothing to do with the manner in which Cat Moves enters the Test.
“I’m not worried about her running well, because I have every reason to think she will run well,” he said. “It’s what happens afterward. You know what, I’m only somewhat excited. I don’t even know that I am excited. Everybody knows how incredibly difficult the Test Stakes is every year. I know it will be that way again this year. Every year, it’s a brutal race. I want Cat Moves to be good in the Test and after the Test. So I hope a race like the Test is not any more than it has to be on Cat Moves. I hope she comes out of the race very well, and can further her career from there. So I’m not excited, I’m more worried.”
Dutrow referenced a couple of Test doozeys, including the 2002 edition when You narrowly defeated Carson Hollow, a horse trained by his brother Rick, after a stretch battle that was so good it became a NYRA billboard.
“Remember You and Carson Hollow? That was one for the ages, and that is what the Test is,” Dutrow said. “Remember Xtra Heat? She got in a brutal speed duel and [Victory Ride] picked her up late.”
Cat Moves, who carries 122 pounds as the highweight, has a new rider in the Test. John Velazquez picked up the mount from Ramon Dominguez who will be in Chicago Saturday to ride the Arlington Million card.
Zayat Stables’ Heart Ashley (Edgar Prado) finished sixth in the Prioress after setting swift early fractions. In March, the Steve Asmussen-trained filly won the Grade III Cicada at Aqueduct. Two months later, another front-running victory came in the Grade III Miss Preakness at Pimlico.
“I had probably been a little light on her going into the Prioress,” Asmussen said. “The Miss Preakness took more out of her than I wanted it to because we missed so much training going into the race. She just needs to step it up a bit. I like the way she has trained since her last race.”
Florida shipper First Passage should be a factor in this spot. Trained by Marty Wolfson, the ultra-consistent First Passage is a winner of four of six starts. In a gutsy performance, Star Crown Stable’s First Passage won last month’s Grade III Azalea Stakes at Calder. First Passage (Alan Garcia) possesses a come-from-behind style, which should suit her well if a speed fracas develops early. Wolfson won this race with Chaposa Springs in 1995.
Godolphin Stable’s Flashing (Richard Migliore) cuts back in distance after finishing third and last behind the Asmussen-trained Rachel Alexandra in the Grade I, 9-furlong Mother Goose at Belmont in June. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Flashing was beaten 31 1/2 lengths. That effort was preceded by three consecutive victories, including Belmont’s Grade III Nassau County Stakes at 7 furlongs in May.
Reforestation (Eibar Coa) finished third in the Prioress. All Of Her Twist (Rajiv Maragh) and Pretty Prolific (Robby Albarado) finished first and second, respectively, in the Dearly Precious Stakes at Monmouth Park last month. New York-bred Olde Glamour (Mike Luzzi) makes her graded-stakes debut.