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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Cabo Cat, Smart Cover Add Depth to Palm Beach Field

2/27/2014

Smart Cover comes back from an injury seeking a path on the Triple Crown Trail, and Cabo Cat stretches out to a new distance in a crowded Palm Beach Stakes field.

Smart Cat was injured running second to stablemate Cleburne in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, and he returns to the races for the first time since on Saturday.

Trained by Dale Romans, Smart Cover drew post seven of 13 in the nine-furlong Palm Beach, and will be ridden for the first time by Corey Lanerie. On Wednesday, Lanerie was named winner of the George Woolf Memorial Award in a nationwide vote of his peers. Fifth in his debut last June at Churchill, Smart Cover broke his maiden by a nose going a mile on the grass at Ellis Park in July. In what would be his final juvenile start, he returned to the dirt and closed fast on the outside but fell a neck short of Cleburne in the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois.

“He’s doing really good,” Romans said.“He’s made a huge change from his 2-year-old year to his 3-year-old year. He got hurt in the stake. We had to take care of a shin, but he’s all healed up. He’s training super, and he’s really grown up into a bigger, stronger horse. It’s a tough place to come out for his first start of the year, but there aren’t many options.”

Romans hopes to use the Palm Beach to get Smart Cover back on the Triple Crown trail.

“He’ll go back to the dirt after this race,” Romans said. “I just wanted to get him started, and then we’ll go look for one of those last-round 100-point preps. He fits with the best of them.”

Smart Cover went off at 26-1 in the Iroquois, finishing a neck ahead of Tapiture in a three-horse photo finish. Tapiture has gone on to win the Kentucky Jockey Club in November and the Southwest on Feb. 17.

Cleburne has not run since upsetting the Iroquois at 34-1. The Dixie Union colt had his first timed work since then on Feb. 22 at Gulfstream, going a half-mile in 49.40 seconds.

“Tapiture has really flattered that whole field,” Romans said. “We’re getting Smart Cover and Cleburne back, and we need them.”

Cabo Cat Tries Added Distance

Gradually stretched out by trainer Mark Hennig, Cabo Cat will get his longest test yet on Saturday.

The 1 1/8-mile Palm Beach will be the third race at the meet for Cabo Cat and first since closing to be third, beaten 1 1/4 length by Storming Inti and We Miss Artie in the 1 1/16-mile Kitten’s Joy.

“He’s doing great,” Hennig said. “I felt like the added distance wasn’t going to hurt him any, and if anything he would benefit from it. I’ve kind of been pointing for this race since his last one.”

A 3-year-old chestnut son of Kitten’s Joy, Cabo Cat rallied to be second at odds of 37-1 in the Dania Beach two races back, 2 3/4 lengths behind Mr Speaker. That one also returns in the Palm Beach after finishing seventh in the Holy Bull.

Cabo Cat was also a half-length ahead of Palm Beach rival Pleuven in the Dania Beach.

“I’m really pleased with the progress he’s made this winter. Hopefully, he takes another step forward,” Hennig said. “He has really thrived since coming here. He’s one of those horses that has really turned the corner and done well down here.”

Cabo Cat broke his maiden at first asking going seven furlongs on the Belmont Park turf last October. He returned 25 days later to finish sixth to Storming Inti in his stakes debut, the Awad.

“I thought his first race was very impressive. It wasn’t the quickest race, but I was disappointed in his second race,” Hennig said. “Now that he’s put together a string of good races, I’m very pleased. It wasn’t like his last race unfolded perfectly for him, so I think there’s room for improvement.”

Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey

 

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