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Aug 12, 2006

Haskell Invitational goes to Bluegrass Cat


Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Bluegrass Cat, second in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, left the field in the dust Sunday in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

The impressive victory should put Bluegrass Cat in the mix for divisional honors. It also gave trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez another notch on their victory belts. This is the first Haskell win for both the trainer and jockey.

Bluegrass Cat ran most of the race second behind the leader, Praying for Cash. Velazquez moved Bluegrass Cat along side the pacesetter entering the stretch and then took off.

Bluegrass Cat went on to win by seven lengths over Praying for Cash. Completing the order of finish was Strong Contender, Victory Lake, Electrify, Awfully Smart, Flashy Bull, Deputy Glitters and Little Cliff.

The time for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track was 1:48.85.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Bluegrass Cat was making his first start since his second-place finish to Jazil in the Belmont Stakes. Bluegrass Cat was second in the Kentucky Derby to Barbaro.

"He's done very well," said Elliott Walden, racing manager for WinStar Farm. "After the Belmont, the natural progression is to back off of him and give him a little time and we did that. And he came out of the Belmont well, but we decided to give him a break and he's come back raring to go. He's had a couple of very nice works coming into the race and we look for good things on Sunday."

The Haskell is Bluegrass Cat's first win since taking the Sam F. Davis in February at Tampa Bay Downs. He went on to fail as the favorite in both the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

Bluegrass Cat has won five of 10 starts for more than $1.5 million. Sunday's victory was worth $600,000.

Bluegrass returned $4.00, $2.80 and $2.40. Praying for Cash paid $5.00 and $3.00, and Strong Contender paid $2.80 for show.

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