03/07/2003 12:00AM

Cat Genius well placed in return

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Cat Genius, who used a high turn of speed to win the first three races of his career before grabbing a quarter as the favorite in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, will make his comeback Sunday night in the $75,000 Sportsman's Paradise for 3-year-olds at Delta Downs in Vinton, La.

The seven-furlong race will be run around two turns, and the distance and configuration is why the front-running Cat Genius, who is one of six stakes winners in the 10-horse field, is here.

"We wanted to get two turns at less than a mile, based on his fitness," said Tom Amoss, who trains Cat Genius for John Parker.

Cat Genius won his debut by 10 1/4 lengths last August at Mountaineer Park. He then beat entry-level allowance foes by 11 3/4 lengths at Arlington in September before winning the $100,000 Gilded Time there by five lengths the day before the Breeders' Cup.

Cat Genius was favored when he made his two-turn debut in the Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs. He stumbled at the start, but recovered quickly and led the field through the opening half-mile before finishing 12th.

"He grabbed a quarter right out of the gate," said Amoss. "He's healed fine. He'll wear a protective shoe [Sunday]. All of his works have been with that same shoe."

In his final prep for his comeback, Cat Genius worked a bullet five furlongs in 59 seconds at Fair Grounds Tuesday.

"He's fit," said Amoss, who has made no plans beyond this race with the Triple Crown-nominated Cat Genius.

"This race will let us know where he stands," said Amoss. "There's still the question of how much distance he can get. This race will lead to the next."

Calvin Borel will ride Cat Genius, who breaks from post 9. Given the colt's speed, the wide draw should not work against him Sunday.

Call Me Lefty, a front-runner who has won three of his last four starts, showed something of a new dimension in the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston on Feb. 15. last out, tracking the pace before going on to an eight-length win.

Call Me Lefty's one defeat in his last four starts came in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds, when he set the pace before finishing second to Saintly Look.

Among other stakes winners in the field are Crowned King, Cleaning House, and Mucho Bold.

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