Jockey Corey Nakatani and trainer Richard Baltas have been on a roll in Southern California; last weekend the pair teamed up to win the listed Robert J. Frankel Stakes. This Saturday, Nakatani got his first graded win since his return to the saddle in an off-the-turf running of Grade 3 Las Cienegas at Santa Anita Park, aboard Harry Bederian, Harout Kamberian, and Hagop Nakkashian’s Watch This Cat. The 5-year-old daughter of Eskendereya was also celebrating her first graded stakes win, as she covered 6 1/2 furlongs over the sloppy main track in 1:16.41 to win by about nine lengths on the wire.
“She’s won her last two on the grass and has been doing really well for Richard,” said Nakatani. “His team over there…Between him, David and Thomas, they do a lot of work that we never get to see. They put a lot of time into this and he’s getting results. I’m proud to be a part of it. His owners, the support they give him, and the support he’s given me…I’ve ridden two stakes winners for him already and he’s put me back into a spot to have a chance at leading rider.”
Paquita Coqueta broke on top of the field, but Lajatico was right on her hip three-quarters of length off the lead. Watch This Cat was back in third while three wide, with Cadet Roni trailing the field. Paquita Coqueta appeared to be trying to get out a bit down the backstretch, but set solid early fractions of :21.58 and :44.44 as Lajatico continued to pressure her lead.
Around the far turn, both Lajatico and Watch This Cat made their moves to pounce on Paquita Coqueta, lining up three wide at the three-eighths pole. Lajatico folded before the top of the lane, while Watch This Cat seemed to hang a bit making the last part of the turn. Paquita Coqueta was swishing her tail with effort, but Watch This Cat blew past her easily after changing leads, drawing away at the three-sixteenths and extending her lead to win by nine lengths on the wire. Paquita Coqueta had to settle for second, and Cadet Roni was able to pass Lajatico to finish third.
“This horse has won down the hill both times and she’s impressed me,” said Baltas. “I was excited about today but the only thing was that we just didn’t know about the dirt. I just told Corey to let her have her way. Let her get relaxed and run where she wants to run and he did. He rode her perfectly.”
Bred in Kentucky by Hinkle Farms, Watch This Cat was a $ 100,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. Beginning her career for Bridlewood Farm, the mare broke her maiden second out and was able to place in a pair of allowance races, but did not find the winner’s circle again. Claimed by Baltas for $ 32,000 on June 18, 2016, the mare seemed to turn around. Since the claim, she has not finished worse than third, and the Las Cienegas is her third win in a row. Overall, Watch This Cat boasts a record of four wins from 16 starts for earnings of $ 160,000.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2017 Paulick Report.