Hopelessly trapped behind horses in his first start for trainer Jim
Cassidy, Cat Talk had clear sailing into the winner’s circle Friday with
a three-quarter-length victory over stubborn pace-setter Don Perico in
Santa Anita’s featured $76,800 Kitty Hawk Purse at one mile on turf.
With 47-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith moving to within
two wins of the 5,000 career victory milestone, Cat Talk overtook the
leader in midstretch to gradually draw clear while covering the distance
in the swift time of 1:33.34.
“Mike never had a chance to even ask him to run in his last
race,” Cassidy said in reference to Cat Talk’s first start of the year
on March 12, a fourth-place finish under similar conditions. It was his
initial race for the 67-year-old trainer born and raised in the Bronx.
Asked what he had learned about Cat Talk from his first
experience aboard the 4-year-old gelding, Smith replied, “I learned that
he was talented.” Added Smith, “My main objective today was to get him
into position on the first turn. I moved him a little early, but he was
good enough to do it.”
The California-bred son of Tale of the Cat stalked Don Perico,
ridden by Rafael Bejarano, for much of the journey. The fractions
included a half in 45.97, six furlongs in 1:09.09 and seven eighths in
1:20.83 with the rails at 24 feet. Circle the Moon, with Joe Talamo
aboard, closed for third, two lengths behind Don Perico in the field of
Bet down to 2-1 favoritism following the troubled previous trip,
Cat Talk paid $6, $4.20 and $3.40. Don Perico returned $7.60 and $5.60.
The show price on Circle the Moon was $5.
The victory was the third in 10 career starts for the bay
gelding owned and bred by Madera Thoroughbreds and Kevin Kjelstrom. Cat
Talk earned $45,240 to elevate his career total to $136,554.
Jockey Joe Talamo, who reached the 1,000 career victory plateau
at the age of 22 on Thursday before adding that day’s feature to his
total, recorded three more wins on Friday’s eight-race program.