08/17/2009 12:00AM

Awakino Cat puts Rice in lead for meet

Barbara D. Livingston
Awakino Cat rallies under Alan Garcia to win Monday's Troy Stakes at Saratoga for trainer Linda Rice.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Linda Rice put the cap on a terrific first half of the Saratoga season Monday when Awakino Cat rallied from just off the pace to win the by 1 1/4 lengths.

Sixthirteen, making his turf debut, set the pace and held second by a nose over Due Date, who nosed out Our Friend Harvey for third.

The win was a meet-leading 10th of the meet for Rice, all of which have come on the turf. Rice leads Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott, who are tied for second with nine wins apiece.

"It's been good," Rice said about her 10-for-25 performance through the first 18 days of the meet. "Now I have to figure out how to keep it up."

Awakino Cat was running back just 18 days after winning the Quick Call Stakes on July 30. Breaking from the rail under Alan Garcia, Awakino Cat settled into a stalking third as Sixthirteen set the pace, pressed by Due Date through a quarter in 21.41 seconds and a half in 43.80.

Garcia had Awakino Cat three wide turning for home and he gradually wore down the front-runners late. Awakino Cat, a 4-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic owned in part by Rice, covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.39 and returned $7.10 as the favorite.

"I wasn't keen on the one-hole, but I thought he had enough tactical speed and Alan rode him great," Rice said. "When I saw we were third after that first quarter, I thought we were in a pretty good spot. I just wondered coming back so quickly would he dig in and be able to give us that same type of performance."

Garcia, who won two races on Monday's card, finished the first half of the meet with a 22-18 lead over Ramon Dominguez.