Trainer Jose Garoffalo has always had an abundance of confidence when
it comes to Wildcat Red. Late Saturday afternoon, luck finally caught
up with his stable star.
Given a perfect ride by recently minted Eclipse Award-winning jockey
Javier Castellano, Wildcat Red ranged up to the lead turning for home
and drew away with a flourish to win the 61st renewal of the $200,000
Hutcheson (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
It was the first stakes victory for the son of Grade 1-winning
sprinter D’wildcat, who was disqualified to second for interference in
the Juvenile Sprint Stakes on Nov. 9, and finished a head bob short in
the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1.
Garoffalo had hoped to bring Wildcat Red back in the $400,000 Miller
Lite Holy Bull (G2) on Jan. 25, but discovered a minor illness on the
day entries were taken and decided to wait for the Hutcheson.
“It was an infection in the throat, some mucus in the upper windpipe.
It wasn’t a big deal, really, but we didn’t want to take the chance to
run,” Garoffalo said. “We waited for this race, and the horse fit pretty
good in this spot. He proved he was the best horse in the race, as we
Favored in the field of nine at 2-1, Wildcat Red ($6) ran seven
furlongs in 1:22.21, hitting the wire 4 ¾ lengths in front of C. Zee.
Pablo Del Monte came on to be third, another half-length
“Actually, I was very impressed,” Garoffalo said. “I was expecting a
tough race, but he handled the group very easily. He impressed me how
easy he did it.”
Gambler’s Ghost broke fastest from the gate and went right to the
front, leading through a quarter-mile 22.30 seconds and a half in 44.87
with Pasco Stakes winner Mighty Brown alongside and Wildcat Red settled
in a stalking spot in third.
Aboard for the first time, Castellano steered Wildcat Red outside
approaching the final turn and took command with little resistance,
pulling clear under a hand ride. Long On Value, Spot, Tashir, Mighty
Brown, Trail Blaze and Gambler’s Ghost completed the order of
“The race unfolded like I had handicapped,” Castellano said. “I
didn’t want to be on the lead because then they’d want to chase me and
he would get tired. I wanted to target somebody and then he’d give me
the kick. It’s very impressive, the way he did it. They went good
fractions and he was sitting right there. When I asked him, he took
Garoffalo had planned to stretch Wildcat Red around two turns in the
Holy Bull, won impressively by Cairo Prince, and said he will now point
to the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 22.
“That is the next step, hopefully, if everything goes good,” Garoffalo
said. “We’re going to check the horse after the race, and if everything
goes in a good way we’ll be there, especially because I just read that
Cairo Prince is not going to go in the race. I probably am going to run
in that race if the horse is in good shape.”