06/30/2017 10:16AM

Calgary Cat at best distance in Highlander Stakes

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Michael Burns
Calgary Cat (left) wins last year's six-furlong Nearctic Stakes. He has hit the board in all three of his six-furlong turf sprints.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – After a narrow defeat over seven furlongs, Calgary Cat will shorten up to six furlongs in Sunday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Highlander Stakes on the turf at Woodbine.

The Highlander has been added to the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series this year and will award its winner a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar on Nov. 4.

Calgary Cat, who finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last season, has made two starts this year, both at seven furlongs on turf. He finished sixth in the Elusive Quality Stakes at Belmont Park on April 29 before losing a three-horse photo in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on June 3 at Woodbine, earning a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

:: Get bonus PPs for Sunday's Queen's Plate card at Woodbine with the purchase of any other Sunday PPs

“I was a little disappointed in the New York race,” trainer Kevin Attard said. “I don’t know if it was the condition of the turf. I thought he’d run better than he did, but he definitely ran a big race when he came home. Cutting back to six is going to be right up his alley. He seems like a natural six-furlong horse.”

Attard said Calgary Cat has been training well coming into the Highlander. The 7-year-old gelding breezed four furlongs on the dirt training track in 47.60 seconds last Sunday.

Key Contenders

Calgary Cat, by Cowtown Cat
Last 3 Beyers: 103-92-101

◗ In his most recent start over six furlongs on turf, Calgary Cat rallied from well off the pace to win the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes with a 97 Beyer last October.

Green Mask, by Mizzen Mast
Last 3 Beyers: 109-102-99

◗ He ships up to Woodbine following a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park on June 10, when he earned a 109 Beyer.

◗ He does have experience over Woodbine’s turf course after running second behind Passion for Action in last year’s Highlander.

Noholdingback Bear, by Put It Back
Last 3 Beyers: 86-93-29

◗ Canada’s champion sprinter of 2016 returned to the barn of trainer Mike De Paulo recently following two starts at Belmont Park with trainer Brian Lynch.

◗ The Highlander will mark just his second start on grass, following a runner-up finish in the Texas Glitter Stakes over five furlongs at Gulfstream Park in February 2016.

Commute, by Hold Me Back
Last 3 Beyers: 103-95-102

◗ He couldn’t hold the lead late after being close to a lively pace in the seven-furlong Connaught Cup in his most recent. He should be close to the pace again Sunday and could benefit with the cutback in distance.