Cas­satt, For­ever Un­bri­dled square off

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mar­cus Hersh

On Satur­day night at Sam Hous­ton, Cas­satt will try for her se­cond win in the Grade 3, $400,000 Hous­ton Ladies Clas­sic, run for the first time as a graded race.

The Ladies Clas­sic, to be con­tested at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, at­tracted seven en­trants, but Rose to Glory is ex­pected to be scratched. Cas­satt and For­ever Un­bri­dled are the fa­vorites. Cali Star, Theogony, and Diva’s Di­a­mond all have a fight­ing chance, while Wel­come Aboard is a long­shot.

The 5-year-old Cas­satt held on to win this race in 2015 af­ter set­ting a strong pace un­der Ker­win Clark. Florent Ger­oux has the mount this time.

The Ladies Clas­sic goes as race 9 at 9:05 Cen­tral. The track should be fast for Sam Hous­ton’s big­gest card.

KEY CON­TENDERS

For­ever Un­bri­dled, by Un­bri­dled’s Song (Last 3 Bey­ers: 94-88-80)

◗ She was part of a strong group of 3-year-old fil­lies last win­ter at Fair Grounds that pro­duced the first-, se­cond-, and third-place fin­ish­ers in the Ken­tucky Oaks. But For­ever Un­bri­dled ran poorly in the Oaks, fin­ish­ing 11th and earn­ing a sum­mer va­ca­tion.

“She chased those horses all win­ter, tried so hard, and she came out of the Ken­tucky Oaks re­ally, re­ally tired,” trainer Dal­las Ste­wart said. “She came back big­ger, stronger, very ma­ture, and healthy.”

◗ A close, clos­ing fi fth in the Raven Run over seven fur­longs in Oc­to­ber at Keeneland, For­ever Un­bri­dled moved for­ward and won the Grade 3 Comely over the tal­ented filly Car­rumba in her fi­nal start of 2015.

◗ She has put to­gether a strong se­ries of five work­outs at Fair Grounds.

“She’s been spot on,” Ste­wart said Wed­nes­day. “Her last work was great, and she had an ex­cel­lent gal­lop to­day.”

Cas­satt, by Tapit (Last 3 Bey­ers: 82-70-64)

◗ Trainer Larry Jones thinks she’s as good as she was one year ago, but that’s dif­fi­cult to say. Cas­satt, in search of a Grade 1 win this sea­son, went off form in the Santa Mar­garita last March in her first start af­ter the Ladies Clas­sic. She was beaten as the fa­vorite in a six-fur­long Keeneland al­lowance race in Oc­to­ber, then set the pace and held on for a nar­row win in a listed stakes over a sloppy Rem­ing­ton Park track in De­cem­ber.

“This is her third race off a lay­off, and she ought to be ready to roll,” Jones said. “Her last race was a big im­prove­ment off that Keeneland race.”

◗ Cas­satt likes to gal­lop freely, and she runs fast in the morn­ing, too. Her five-fur­long works Jan. 11 and Jan. 18 were bul­lets, and her most re­cent drill, also at five fur­longs, was the sec­ond­fastest of the morn­ing.

“It’s not like she has to have the lead, but she’s got a very high cruis­ing speed,” said Jones. “It’s eas­ier for her to run 47 for the half than it is 48 and 4. It’s fool­ish for us to take away her best as­set, her speed.”

Cali Star, by Street Cry (Last 3 Bey­ers: 89-88-78)

◗ She moved to trainer Marty Wolf­son’s barn in Florida last fall and scored two straight con­vinc­ing wins at Gulf­stream, the last a ca­reer-best per­for­mance in the Grade 3 Ram­part.

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