Stephen Cheney and Cory Hoffman’s Calgary Cat pounced on a freewheeling Parise in the final strides to capture Sunday’s $132,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Kevin Attard, Calgary Cat, recently honoured as Canada’s champion sprinter of 2014, made his seasonal debut a winning one with a tremendous turn of foot under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva.
Parise, with Emma-Jayne Wilson up, set splits of :21.82 and :44.18 in the six furlong ‘Poly’ sprint opening up a three-length lead at the half-mile mark. Calgary Cat, eighth in the early running in a field of 10, was urged into contention through the turn settling into third position behind Black Hornet.
Parise maintained a three-length lead as he led the field to the top of the stretch, but he could not stay off the charge of Calgary Cat as da Silva angled the chestnut off the rail for clear running en route to a 1/2-length score.
Puntrooskie rallied for show money, four lengths back of Parise. Calgary Cat covered six furlongs in 1:08.98.
Da Silva admitted he was worried that Wilson had stickhandled clear of the field with Parise.
“I was really worried,” said da Silva. “He’s such a big horse, he’s not a horse to make a run in the turn but I had no choice. That horse was getting away and I did move a little earlier today than I usually do. But, he’s a good horse and he made it up in the end.”
Da Silva believes the champion chestnut, claimed for just $25,000 on November 15, 2013, could be in line for a big 2015 campaign.
“I think he’s a better horse this year,” said da Silva. “Once he got clear on the outside, I knew it was over. I knew he would catch that horse.”
Calgary Cat, a five-year-old son of Cowtown Cat-Big Sink Star bred in Ontario by WinStar Farm, banked $75,000 in victory while improving his record to 8-3-1 from 16 career starts.
He paid $4.70, $3.30 and $2.70, combining with Parise ($5.80, $4.10) for a $29.80 (1-8) exactor. A 1-8-10 triactor (Puntrooskie, $4.20 to show) was worth $149.60, while a $1 Superfecta [1-8-10-2 (Black Hornet)] came back $235.75.