Lyle Lovett’s Stray Cat, the only stallion in the world to carry the combined blood of leading Thoroughbred sire Storm Cat and all-time leading Quarter Horse sire First Down Dash, enjoyed his first victory at Los Alamitos Race Course following a nose victory at the classic 440-yard distance over recent winner Holdthemperry in Sunday’s eighth race at the Orange County track.
Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones, the 4-year-old horse by the great Thoroughbred sire Storm Cat covered the quarter mile race in the meet’s fastest time of :21.637. This isn’t Stray Cat’s first photo finish win. In his previous start, the Lovett and Vessels Stallion Farm-bred horse won the Grade 3 $45,270 Red Cell Remington Park Distance Challenge by a whisker at 870 yards. Now a winner of three of 17 starts, Stray Cat arrived at Los Alamitos after finishing seventh in the Remington Park Distance Handicap, which was also contested at 870 yards. Stray Cat became the first Quarter Horse stakes winner for former leading Thoroughbred sire Storm Cat when he broke his maiden at Ruidoso Downs at 350 yards on August 24.
Stray Cat’s first win in southern California came in a $12,300 allowance test for 3-year-old and upwards. It came against a talented field that included Holdthemperry, who an allowance winner at 300 yards in his previous start on June 7, and Paul Ford Handicap winner Mister Michael, who had the previous top clocking of the meet at 440 yards while remaining the owner of the meet’s fastest time at 550 yards. Leaving the gate from post five at 7-1 odds, Stray Cat battled for the lead right from the start. With 110-yards to go Holdthemperry led by a head, but Stray Cat came on strong from there and prevailed at the wire by the narrowest of margins. Stray Cat earned $6,050 to take his career earnings to $51,538.
“We wanted to sharpen his speed with this 440-yard race,” Jones said. “He had been racing at 870 yards so we knew that he was fit enough. I was worried when I saw the horses that he was going to face. There were some very tough runners in this race.”
Storm Cat died at the age of 30 on April 24. The legendary sire spent 20 years at stud during a career that saw his fee rise to as high as $500,000. Ninety one of Storm Cat’s yearlings brought $1 million or more at public auctions. Stray Cat’s mother is Your First Moon, who won the Los Alamitos Million Futurity in 2001. Your First Moon is a daughter of First Down Dash. The rest of Stray Cat’s 2013 campaign will include the $100,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge to be held on Bank of America Racing Challenge Championships Night on Saturday, November 9.
Racing for Jose Benavides and Guillermo Morales, Holdthemperry earned $2,485 for finishing second. Mister Michael ran third and was followed by Ambush Alley and Azoom To The Top.