11/05/2005 12:00AM

Catcominatcha gets up by neck

Four Footed Fotos
Catcominatcha wins the 24th running of the Grade 3, $116,700 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Catcominatcha, under a terrific ride by Rafael Bejarano, collared front-running High Cotton in deep stretch to post a neck victory Saturday in the 24th running of the Grade 3, $116,700 at Churchill Downs.

High Cotton spurted clear from the field approaching the eighth pole, but Bejarano deftly guided Catcominatcha out of traffic and to an inside path, which the colt used to register his second victory from six career starts.

Catcominatcha returned $18.20 as fourth choice in a field of 13 2-year-olds. High Cotton, a 7-1 shot, finished 4 1/2 lengths clear of Mondavi, 72-1, while Flanders Fields, the 3-2 favorite, finished fifth. Catcominatcha was timed in 1:36.38 for the one-turn mile.

Bejarano, who previously rode Catcominatcha to a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile and a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Futurity, said his mount finished "really, really strong."

Winning trainer Eddie Kenneally called Bejarano's ride "fantastic." Kenneally said the Nov. 26 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes is the likely next start for Catcominatcha.

Catcominatcha, by Tale of the Cat, is owned by Thomas McCann, who lives in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Yellow Springs.

"I tried selling him twice at auction," said McCann, but the colt failed to draw his reserve price once and was withdrawn another time. The colt is the first stakes winner for McCann.

In ideal fall weather, and before an ontrack crowd of 14,864, High Cotton took over from front-running Sharp Attack and Right Place N Time, the 7-2 second choice, after straightening for the drive.

"When my horse made the lead he wanted to look around and wait," said Javier Castellano, who rode High Cotton. "When the other horse came to him, he dug back in, but unfortunately we got beat."

Jockey Jerry Bailey said Flanders Fields "had no problems. He's just a big, long-striding, immature horse. He can't go that fast early, and he can't make those quick moves."