by Teresa Genaro
As much as everyone in Saratoga was happy to see the sun come out this weekend, there was probably no one happier than Wayne Catalano, trainer of $200,000 Shuvee Stakes (G3) winner FARRELL.
A dismal performer on an off-track, with four off-the-board finishes in six starts, the filly is remarkably consistent when the footing is dry, with a record of 17-8-2-2. Breaking from post seven, jockey Channing Hill guided the four-year-old to the front and dropped to the rail, establishing an easy lead of a length or two, sauntering through fractions of :24.35 and :48.31.
Through much of the nine furlongs, Farrell was tailed by undefeated Chilean Triple Crown winner Wow Cat, making her first start in the United States for trainer Chad Brown. Unaided by the easy fractions, the inveterate closer had a tough task to reach the leader, but the daughter of Lookin at Lucky set to her mission willingly, eager to pass Farrell as the field approached the eighth-pole.
But it would not be only those two to make a run for it: Verve’s Tale cruised up on the outside, posing a major threat, and the three hit the wire with only a half-length separating the three of them. Odds-on favorite Wow Cat was a neck back in second, while Verve’s Tale settled for third a mere head behind.
“We had a lot of concern (about the weather),” Catalano said. “But when I saw the forecast, I had a lot of confidence. And then when they scratched the 1, I was feeling pretty comfortable, and when I saw :24 and change, I was licking my chops.”
On the advice of the veterinarian, the stewards scratched longshot front runner Frost Wise at the gate.
“I wasn’t worried about (Frost Wise) at all,” Hill said. “Either the second or first jump would have got her into the first turn, or I would have sat right off them. I almost kind of wanted a target today, but it worked out nice because she got loose on the lead.”
A Coffee Pot Stables homebred, Farrell is by Malibu Moon and out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Rebridled Dreams. A half-sister to Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem, Farrell became a millionaire with the Shuvee win, with earnings of $1.06 million.
Her owners live locally, which is part of the reason that Catalano chose to run her in the Shuvee rather than the Matchmaker Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park today.
“Winning at Saratoga,” he said, “is a little more prestigious.”