Catnip On Course For Dubai Turf Following Fair Grounds Work

Catnip | Ryan Thompson

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John and Susan Moore's Catnip (Kitten's Joy), beaten less than a length into third by Warm Heart (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Jan. 27, breezed six furlongs in 1:13 at the Fair Grounds Thursday morning in advance of his next appearance in the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan Mar. 30.

“He broke off behind another horse and went on by, finished well and galloped out nicely. Very pleased with the way he went,” said trainer Mike Stidham.

The 5-year-old is a four-time winner from his 10 trips to the post, including a victory in the GIII Monmouth S. last summer followed by a narrow runner-up effort in the GI United Nations S. at the Jersey Shore oval. The half-brother to five-time graded winner and five-time GI/G1SP Princess Grace (Karakontie {Jpn}) was returning from a 5 1/2-month layoff in the Pegasus, having finished down the field in the GI Arlington Million last August.

Connections could easily have opted for a far easier test in the GII Muniz Memorial S. Mar. 23, but have elected to shoot for the stars in the desert.

“We felt like he stepped up in the Pegasus, only got beat 3/4 of a length behind Warm Heart,” Stidham said. “This is a $5-million race and it's another Grade I and although he's a gelding, the Moores still own the mare. So it was kind of an exciting race to consider. We kind of let him tell us based on how he's been doing since the Pegasus.

“In my opinion, the horse has moved forward off the Pegasus, he ran a 4 1/2 on the Ragozin sheets, a huge lifetime top for him, and we just kind of felt, 'hey, he's earned a shot,' the trainer continued. “Going over there and challenging the top horses in the world from Japan and Britain and Hong Kong, that's asking a lot, but he just got beat to Warm Heart and she would be considered one of the favorites for a race like this.”

The Stidham barn is one-for-one from their trips to Dubai, having been represented by 'TDN Rising Star' and G1 Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) three years ago.

“This will be our second try over there,” Stidham said. “The only difference is this time we won't have to wear a mask. We got to go right in the middle of COVID and it was empty and everyone had masks on.”

Japanese ace Christophe Lemaire has the call in the Dubai Turf.

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