Ice Kat makes victorious return from layoff

Ice Kat and jockey Rafael Bejarano hold off Combat Zone and jockey Flavien Prat to win the 11th race at Del Mar Sept. 2. Benoit Photo photos

Ice Kat, idle since New Year’s Day, made a victorious return to the races Sept. 2 at Del Mar when he captured the 11th race in a photo finish.

Trained at the San Luis Rey Training Center in Bonsall, Ice Kat was making his first start since running fourth as a 5-2 favorite Jan. 1 at Santa Anita. Ice Kat was given five months off after that race and then resumed training in June.

Trainer Richard Baltas sent Ice Kat out for four timed workouts in August – three at San Luis Rey and one at Del Mar – and that training schedule had the 3-year-old gelding ready to roll for his lone start at the 2017 summer meeting.

Ice Kat broke from the outside post in a full field of 12 in the 1 1/8-mile turf contest for maidens. Ridden masterfully by Rafael Bejarano, Ice Kat worked his way from fifth to first with less than a furlong remaining and then continued on strongly to the wire to hold off Combat Zone.

Ice Kat prevailed by a head in 1:49.97 and paid $8.40 as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite. A two-time runner-up, Ice Kat earned his maiden victory in his fifth career start and collected $36,000 for his ownership group.

Ice Kat was one of five San Luis Rey horses to take a winner’s circle photo during the final week of racing at Del Mar’s summer season. The others were Watch This Cat, also trained by Baltas, and three runners from the Peter Miller barn – Cute Knows Cute, Los Borrachos, and Anatolian Heat.

Watch This Cat was also ridden by Bejarano, who guided the 5-year-old mare to a front-running victory in the seventh race Aug. 31. Watch This Cat took the five-furlong allowance dash on the turf by 1 3/4 lengths over British-bred Belvoir Bay in :56.29 and returned $6.20 as the 2-1 second choice in a field of six.

Watch This Cat and jockey Rafael Bejarano cruise home comfortably in front in the seventh race at Del Mar Aug. 31.

The win was Watch This Cat’s first in five tries on the Del Mar lawn and the $40,200 payday boosted his earnings to $236,830.

The 2-year-old filly Cute Knows Cute won the first race Aug. 30 under apprentice jockey Evin Roman. Cute Knows Cute raced on the lead throughout the 5 1/2-furlong sprint and defeated Trust Fund Kitty by three-quarters of a length in the $80,000-$70,000 maiden claiming event. Timed in 1:05.47, Cute Knows Cute paid $8.00 after breaking her maiden in her third career start.

Los Borrachos captured the first race Sept. 3 in his first start since being claimed by Miller for $25,000. Miller put Los Borrachos in a $32,000 claiming race and the 6-year-old gelding was up to the task, winning a six-furlong sprint by 1 1/2 lengths under jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Los Borrachos went off as an even-money favorite and paid $4.00. Miller had to say goodbye to Los Borrachos in the winner’s circle as trainer Jeff Mullins claimed the horse for $32,000.

Miller was back in the winner’s circle following the second race Sept. 3 thanks to Anatolian Heat, who rallied from sixth in a field of 10 to take a five-furlong allowance sprint on the turf. Ridden by Israel Ocampo, Anatolian Heat scored by 2 3/4 lengths in :56.52 and returned $20.60 after going off at 9-1 odds.

San Luis Rey horses recorded 31 victories during the 36-day summer meeting, which concluded Sept. 4.

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