05/27/2013 3:36PM

Arlington Park: Catalano remains hot with Matron win by Imposing Grace

Four Footed Fotos
Imposing Grace (No. 7) got her first stakes win in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Between Jan. 1 and May 1, trainer Wayne Catalano sent out 145 starters. Most of those runners came at Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, and Keeneland, and 18 of them won, a modest 12 percent strike rate.

One could say Catalano had his stable geared up for the Arlington Park meet that began May 3, but that would be saying too little. With just 48 starters through Monday’s second race, Catalano already had notched 20 victories, a 41 percent strike rate. And when tiny Ann of the Dance rallied strongly in Monday’s second race to win, Catalano had won for the ninth time in his last 13 starters in Arlington races dating to May 22.

What’s as remarkable as the hot streak itself is that it doesn’t even seem that remarkable: Catalano has won nine Arlington training titles, and at some point every summer, his stable is bound to catch fire.

“We have a couple outfits that were in the same mode, with horses that weren’t quite ready yet,” Catalano said of his relatively modest statistics early in the year. “It all just came together at the same time. You’d like it maybe to be spread out more, but you’re not going to complain. They’ve got to go out and run their races and have good luck, too.”

Embedded in the Catalano run was a victory Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Matron with the 4-year-old filly Imposing Grace, who, somehow, despite Catalano’s furious win pace, went off at generous odds of 8-1. It was the first stakes win for Imposing Grace, and the graded victory hugely increased the value of the Empire Maker filly for owner Coffeepot Stables.

Imposing Grace earned just an 86 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance, which felt about right, the 1 1/8-mile Matron turning into a war of attrition rather than a showcase for brilliance. For Imposing Grace, the difference between recent defeats and a trip to the winner’s circle was the quality of competition, which dropped decidedly from her recent starts.

There are no other suitable two-turn Polytrack stakes for Imposing Grace at the meet, and Catalano said Monday he wasn’t sure what her summer would bring. One possibility is a surface switch to grass, which would bring the Modesty Handicap on July 13 into play.