Runnymede-bred Sweet Cat will join a full field of 14 in contesting the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) on November 4 at Churchill Downs, and the daughter of Kitten’s Joy out of our mare Claire’s Smile is the early 10-1 fourth choice.
Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez will ride Sweet Cat, who on October 31 drew post six for the one-mile event.
Trainer Todd Pletcher purchased Sweet Cat from Runnymede’s 2010 consignment to the Keeneland September yearling sale and the filly made her first two starts in his silks. When she won a maiden special weight race at Saratoga on September 1, the victory moved jockey John Velazquez into second place among all-time leading riders at the historic track.
Since then, Sweet Cat has been acquired by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and she became the first graded stakes performer for the stable when she finished second in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on October 13. After opening up a two-length lead, Sweet Cat was caught in the stretch by Somali Lemonade, who is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“I think I got a little carried away too early,” Velazquez said after the Jessamine. “At the five-sixteenths I felt the fillies from behind starting to apply pressure, so I asked Sweet Cat for another gear and she just exploded. Rather than trying to reel her in and ask for another burst, I decided to just open up and play ‘catch me if you can.’ She ran her tail off, and even when the winner got in front of her, my filly dug down and tried to fight back. Sweet Cat ran awesome. She’s still green, so this race will really help her. I was very impressed. She’s a really, really good filly.”
Sweet Cat has made three career starts to date and never finished worse than second.
Elusive Kate, who won the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) at Longchamp on October 2, is the early 2-1 favorite in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Trained by John Gosden, she will be ridden by William Buick and start from post ten.
Somali Lemonade is listed at 3-1 after drawing the far outside post with jockey Alex Solis.
Sweet Cat’s stablemate in the Pletcher barn, Mike Repole’s Stopshoppingmaria, is the 8-1 early third choice and will be ridden by Javier Castellano. Velazquez has committed to ride Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and one of four fillies listed at 12-1 on the morning line.