10/06/2010 11:54AM

Courageous Cat returning in Shadwell Turf Mile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Courageous Cat trains at Saratoga on Oct. 4 under Neil Poznansky.

Gone, and mostly forgotten. That has been the story of Courageous Cat’s 2010 campaign, but Courageous Cat might remind people just how good he can be when he returns to action Saturday in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.

The Shadwell also is expected to include 2009 champion Gio Ponti as well as improving Bernard Baruch winner Get Stormy, and the race will help determine the breadth of U.S.-based contingent for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. In California, 3-year-old Sidney’s Candy will attempt to repeat his smashing turf debut at Del Mar in the Oak Tree Mile at Hollywood Park.

That will about do it for U.S. Mile prep races, but everything BC Mile-related that plays out in the next month does so in the long shadow of the compact French dynamo Goldikova. She cemented her position as the favorite to win her third consecutive Mile with a rousing victory Sunday in the Prix de la Foret. Goldikova lost that race on her way to the 2009 Mile and was expected to be vulnerable Sunday on a course softer than she probably prefers, but she proved a half-length better than longtime rival Paco Boy.

In fact, it took trainer Bill Mott no time at all to reference the Foret result when asked about Courageous Cat’s chances of making his second straight start in the Mile.

“Did you see Goldikova’s race?” Mott wanted to know.

Courageous Cat got a good look at her last fall at Santa Anita, when Goldikova out-quicked him from the stretch call to the wire for her second BC Mile victory. Courageous Cat, however, performed admirably in defeat, having never faced foes nearly so strong. Big things were expected going forward, but after a narrow win in the in the Canadian Turf on Feb. 20 at Gulfstream Park, Courageous Cat failed to show anything close to his best in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free. He has not raced since.

“I can’t tell you what went on in Dubai,” Mott said. “He had reasonably good position. He just didn’t finish up well.”

Courageous Cat was turned out at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky for two months after shipping back to the United States. Mott then spent the whole summer slowly bringing Courageous Cat back to race readiness.

“We haven’t missed a day with him,” Mott said. “I guess we brought him back steadily, and we feel we’ve had enough time to get him ready to run a good race. We’ve got plenty of training in him.”

Mott plans to start Proviso, the country’s best middle-distance grass female, this weekend at Keeneland in the one-mile First Lady. Should Proviso turn in a bang-up performance, she also might be considered for the BC Mile.

◗ There’s still fluidity among the European possibles for the Mile, but one horse not running is Makfi, who was retired this week. Makfi won the English 2000 Guineas in the spring and handed Goldikova a 2 1/2-length defeat in the Prix Jacques le Marois on Aug. 15. But Makfi finished fifth as the favorite in the Sept. 25 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and was said to recently have been suffering from ringworm.