09/15/2006 12:00AM

Ambitious Cat facing some tough opposition


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ambitious Cat, Canada's champion turf filly or mare in 2005, ended a frustrating run of near-misses by becoming a stakes winner in the July 15 Dance Smartly here at Woodbine.

On Sunday, Ambitious Cat will be looking to enhance her case for another divisional title when she faces five rivals in the $300,000 Canadian, which like the Dance Smartly is a Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Ambitious Cat's task certainly will not be an easy one, however, as her opponents include Arravale and Almerita, a pair of 3-year-olds who have prevailed at the top level this season.

Arravale, trained by locally based Mac Benson, reached the pinnacle in her last start, capturing the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks over 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 19 in her second trip to California this year.

Almerita took the Group 1 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) over 1 3/8 miles at Dusseldorf on June 4 and then finished a close third in a field including older males in a 1 1/4-mile Group 1 stakes in Munich on July 30.

Ambitious Cat, meanwhile, has been passing the time at the nearby Chiefswood Farm of her owners, Robert and Mark Krembil, with the exception of a couple of day trips to Woodbine for workouts.

"It's been about nine weeks since she's run, which is a bit of a concern," said Eric Coatrieux, who trains Ambitious Cat. "I tried to enter her in the prep for this race, but unfortunately it didn't go.

"She's worked well, though, and I think she's as good as she's ever been."

Todd Kabel, who was aboard for the first time in the Dance Smartly, retains the mount on Ambitious Cat, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old who will be conceding two pounds to Arravale and Almerita as the 121-pound highweight.

Arravale was making just her third start of the season at Del Mar after finishing third in the Grade 1 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on July 2.

A Kentucky-bred owned by Bob Costigan, Arravale had won the Alywow at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf here in her seasonal bow.

Jose Valdivia, who rode Arravale for the first time at Del Mar, will be in from California for the mount in the Canadian.

Almerita, bred in Germany, is trained by Waldemar Hickst and will be ridden by Darryll Holland, who was aboard for her German Oaks win.

Rounding out the field for the Canadian are Ready's Gal, Elle Runaway, and Velvet Snow.

Ready's Gal, trained by Todd Pletcher, won Monmouth's Grade 3 Matchmaker over 1 1/8 miles of turf in her last start Aug. 6.

Elle Runaway, trained by Malcolm Pierce, will be making her first appearance since finishing second in the Dance Smartly.

Velvet Snow, trained by Bob Tiller, won the Belle Geste, a seven-furlong turf race for Ontario-foaled fillies and mares, in her last start here Aug. 26.