06/16/2008 11:00PM

Cougar Cat long overdue


When your father is the prolific sire Storm Cat and your mother is four-time Grade 1 winner Excellent Meeting, it's important for you to win a stakes. Cougar Cat has had some close calls, and on Saturday his trainer, Ronny Werner, hopes he can "get the monkey off his back" in the $50,000 Temperence Hill at Louisiana Downs.

Cougar Cat will start as one of the top choices in the six-furlong Temperence Hill. The race shares the spotlight with a pair of turf routes for 3-year-olds, the $50,000 Pair of Deuces and the $50,000 Little Treasure.

Cougar Cat, a winner of 4 races and $245,566 who is based at Churchill Downs, has placed in four stakes during his 24-race career. His best stakes efforts came last summer, all against top-class sprinters. Cougar Cat was second to Fabulous Strike in the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill with a Beyer Speed Figure of 110, and second to Benny the Bull in the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows. Last September, he ran third to Smokey Stover in the $103,000 Icecapade at Monmouth Park.

"I haven't been dodging anybody with him," Werner said of Cougar Cat. "He's been in some tough spots, and I'm sure this is going to be tough."

Wind Water is the probable favorite for the Temperence Hill. He has won his last three races, most recently the $50,000 Ford Express at Lone Star Park on May 16. He earned a Beyer of 101 after covering six furlongs in 1:08.80.

Louisiana Downs racing secretary Doug Bredar looks for the Temperence Hill to draw a field of eight or nine. Others looking at the race are multiple stakes winners Sumfun, Venomous, and Zarb's Dahar, as well as Greeley's Conquest, Nuttyboom, State Power, and Tricky Mon.

Werner said the Temperence Hill was appealing for a couple of reasons. Cougar Cat, who was fourth in a $100,000 optional claimer at seven furlongs on June 4 at Churchill in his last start, on Saturday is returning to a distance and surface over which he has had a good deal of success.

"He's 2 for 2 down there," Werner said of Louisiana Downs. "He ran good on that track when we had the New Orleans meet there after [Hurricane] Katrina.

"And if you look at his form, he's done his best at three-quarters on the dirt."

Wind Water had been under consideration for the $50,000 Lone Star Park Turf Sprint on July 5. The horse is placed on turf from limited grass starts, but trainer Chris Hartman said dirt ended up being the reason to point for the Temperence Hill.

"We decided to go ahead and go for this deal because it looks like a better fit for him," he said. "It keeps him on the same surface that he's been having success at."

Bredar lists six colts as possible for the Pair of Deuces. Lee's Spirit, winner of the $50,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge at Lone Star, and Lone Star Special, winner of the $50,000 Incredible Ease at Louisiana Downs, are both expected for the 7 1/2-furlong race. Others are Trackerman, Mr. Bubba, Cocoa Max, and Pursue a Dream.

Bredar said the Little Treasure for fillies at 7 1/2 furlongs could include Euphony, Great Precision, Island in the Sand, Love to Tell, Oh Lovely, and Runaway From Itall.

* Filly in Pink, who won her maiden on dirt two starts back, returns to the main track in the sixth, a first-level allowance for fillies and mares bred in Louisiana.