08/08/2009 12:00AM

First Passage looks to close strong in Test


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When First Passage first arrived in this country, she was viewed by her connections as a speedball who might be limited to six-furlong races. Under the tutelage of trainer Marty Wolfson, First Passage has learned to relax and has turned into a one-run closer who should be successful going a little longer.

She has used that style to reel off three consecutive stakes victories, and it is that style that should serve her well in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Test Stakes at Saratoga. First Passage will take on seven rivals, including the undefeated Grade 1 winner Cat Moves, in the seven-furlong Test, which serves as the co-feature on Whitney Handicap Day.

First Passage, a daughter of Giant's Causeway, has won 4 of 5 starts for Wolfson, with her lone loss coming to the promising Light Green, who was beaten three-quarters of a length by stablemate Cat Moves in the Grade 1 Prioress.

First Passage is coming off a three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder on July 11. Visually, First Passage appeared to tire late, but Wolfson said jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan might have moved prematurely. Wolfson thought perhaps Bridgmohan felt Kays and Jays, a speedball from California, was going too easily on the front end.

"The jock got a little concerned they weren't going as quick as before," said Wolfson, who won the 1995 Test with Chaposa Springs. "He moved her a little premature. This filly is like Zenyatta in that if you get her outside she really starts to roll, but late."

Wolfson has Alan Garcia to ride First Passage, and he's hoping Garcia gives his filly the same off-the-pace ride he gave Funny Moon in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Wolfson would like to see a pace battle occur among Flashing, Reforestation, Olde Glamour, and Heart Ashley. However, an early duel also would benefit Cat Moves, who made the successful leap from allowance company to Grade 1 winner in the Prioress.

Cat Moves overcame a sluggish start in the Prioress to wear down her more heralded stablemate, Light Green, and improve to 3 for 3 for owner Edward Evans and trainer Tony Dutrow. This will be the fourth different track Cat Moves has run over and her first trip at seven furlongs. She gets a new rider in John Velazquez, as Ramon Dominguez is committed to ride three-time Grade 1 winner Gio Ponti in the Arlington Million.

Said Dutrow: "I'm aware she's coming off a big effort; I'm aware it's a seven-eighths situation; I'm aware it's a different racetrack; I'm aware it's a different jockey. But I'm feeling okay about how Cat Moves is doing coming into the Test."

Cat Moves is the 122-pound highweight, conceding four to six pounds to the field.

Flashing and Heart Ashley both seek to rebound from disappointing efforts in Grade 1 races last out. Flashing was beaten 31 1/2 lengths by Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose, but shortens up to the distance of her Nassau County Stakes win. Hearty Ashley was used up in a speed duel in the Prioress, but has been successful from off the pace in the past.

Completing the field are All of Her Twist and Pretty Prolific, the one-two finishers in the Dearly Precious at Monmouth, as well as Olde Glamour.