(Comments welcome below)
By Jim Freer
Monday, Aug. 3 – Wildcat Red will soon be headed to Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for a likely run in the seven-furlong Forego (Grade 1) on Aug. 29, his trainer Jose Garoffalo said today.
Garoffalo was speaking by phone from Oceanport, N.J., and still basking in the excitement of Wildcat Red’s victory in Sunday’s six-furlong Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Wildcat Red, who shipped in from Gulfstream Park, and his jockey Paco Lopez split horses in the final 50 yards and edged through to beat Stallwalkin’ Dude on their outside by a head. Delta Bluesman, on the inside, finished another nose behind in third.
Garoffalo said the win convinced him to keep Wildcat Red in sprints. He said he thinks “the seven-furlong distance in the Forego is ideal for him (Wildcat Red).”
Garoffalo plans to van Wildcat Red from Monmouth to Saratoga in mid August. Meanwhile he will make several trips from his base at Gulfstream to Monmouth, where he has several horses stabled this summer.
Sprints or Routes?
Wildcat Red, a 4-year-old colt, spent most of last year on the Triple Crown trail. He became one of the most popular horses in South Florida when he won the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade 2) and finished second in the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby (Grade 1)–both in close and thrilling finishes.
Wildcat Red finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) after a bumping-filled and troubled trip.
As a son of D’wildcat, Wildcat Red is generally regarded as having a sprinter’s pedigree. Since late last year, Garoffalo had basically alternated the horse between sprints and two-turn races.
A big test for the future came in the Smile Sprint (Grade 2) at Gulfstream on July 5. Wildcat Red finished third in a very strong field–behind Favorite Tale and Work All Week.
The Teddy Drone proved to be the convincer in determining Wildcat Red’s future–at least through this year.
With Lopez riding him for the first time, Wildcat Red was in third place for most of the race. Delta Bluesman led through a quarter mile in 21.44 seconds and a half mile in 44.05 seconds.
“I was a bit concerned when that horse took a clear lead,” Garoffalo said. “When I saw those (fast) splits, I thought our chances were good.”
Wildcat Red was third by 2 ½ lengths after a half mile. He began gaining when coming out of the turn and caught Delta Bluesman at the wire while holding off Stallwalkin’ Dude. Wildcat Red won in a solid 1:09.01 on a track listed as fast.
“Paco gave him a great ride,” Garoffalo said. “He knew when to time his move, and then found the opening to split horses.”
He said there is a good chance that Lopez will ride Wildcat Red in the Forego, for 3-year-olds and up and a $700,000 purse.
In the Teddy Drone, Wildcat Red and Stallwalkin’ Dude (ridden by Joe Bravo) were both sent off at 7-2 and produced a $43.00 exacta for $2.
Brothersofthetime, who is stabled part of the year at Gulfstream, finished fourth at 43-1. The $1 superfecta paid $1,726.00. Catron, the 9-5 favorite, never threatened and finished seventh.
The Teddy Drone was Wildcat’s second start at Monmouth Park, which has a deserved reputation as a speed favoring track. Last July 27, he finished third behind speedsters Bayern and Albano in the 1 1/8 mile Haskell (Grade 1) for 3-year-olds.
The Teddy Drone was four races before Sunday’s edition of the Haskell–won by American Pharoah in a romp in his first start since June 6 when he won the Belmont Stakes and became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Wildcat Red is owned by the husband-wife team of Salvatore Delfino and Josie Martino Delfino. who have homes in Venezuela and in South Florida.
His Teddy Drone winner’s check of $60,000 raised his career earnings above $1 million to $1,020,875. That is an impressive return on the $30,000 the Delfinos paid for him in June 2013 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s sale of 2-year-olds,
Wildcat Red has six wins in 16 career starts, along with four second place finishes and three third place finishes. The Teddy Drone win was his first away from Gulfstream.
If Wildcat Red runs in the Forego, it will be the second straight year for him in an undercard race on Travers’ Day at Saratoga.
Last year, he hit the gate at the start of the seven-furlong King’s Bishop (Grade 1) for 3-year-olds and finished fifth.
The Travers (Grade 1) is 1 ¼ miles for 3-year-olds. There is a prospect that it will be the next start fot American Pharoah.