02/06/2010 12:00AM

Cat Park will face Interactif in Hallandale Beach


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Graham Motion said he generally roots for his colleague Todd Pletcher's Interactif to run well, since that 3-year-old is a son of Broken Vow, a horse Motion trained to a couple of graded stakes wins nearly 10 years ago.

But Motion will be rooting for Interactif to finish no better than second in Sunday's $125,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. That's because the Maryland-based Motion will be sending out one of his own, the graded-stakes-placed Cat Park, in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.

Motion said Cat Park has been a "pleasant surprise," especially after getting beaten nearly 18 lengths in his career debut at Philadelphia Park. A switch in surfaces, first to the artificial track and ultimately turf, has turned this son of Tale of the Cat into a stakes-caliber performer.

"He never showed much in the morning, but he's very tough, very consistent and very honest," said Motion who trains Cat Park for George Strawbridge Jr.'s Augustin Stable.

Cat Park won an entry-level allowance race at Keeneland in his turf debut before finishing third behind Lost Aptitude in Grand Canyon Handicap at Churchill Downs to close out his 2-year-old campaign last year. He made his 3-year-old debut in Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby, where he finished a late-running third over a boggy course.

"I was very pleased with his last race, since he was carried very wide and finished almost on the outside fence," said Motion, who will watch the Hallandale Beach from his home in Maryland. "I was really disappointed to see Todd's horse in this race. I thought he might head in a different direction with him, and while I always root for Interactif, I really hate to have to run against him Sunday."

The Hallandale Beach will be Interactif's first start since his third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf three months earlier. Interactif won the Grade 3 With Anticipation and Grade 3 Bourbon stakes before his big race in the Breeders' Cup.

The Hallandale Beach also attracted Bim Bam, a two-time stakes winner who was beaten a neck by the undefeated Nordic Truce in the Dania Beach here three weeks earlier, and Dean's Kitten, who finished sixth, just two lengths behind Interactif in the BC Juvenile Turf.