12/27/2015 3:55PM

Jewel of a Cat scores narrow victory in Windley Key


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The breeding shed may have to wait a little longer for Jewel of a Cat if she continues her winning ways as she did Sunday at Gulfstream Park with a game neck decision over a troubled Tesalina in the $75,000 Windley Key Stakes.

Trainer Carlo Vaccarezza said Jewel of a Cat is under consideration to be bred to Empire Maker this season, but if she keeps winning, it’s going to be hard not to keep her in training for another year.  Jewel of a Cat was transferred to Vaccarezza’s barn earlier this fall after majority owner John Williams purchased the remaining shares in the filly from her previous owners following her eighth-place finish in Parx’s Turf Amazon on Sept. 7. Williams is a partner with Vaccarezza in the restaurant business in south Florida.

Jewel of a Cat, who defeated the boys winning the Sunshine Millions Turf Preview last month at Gulfstream Park West, was pressured on the lead from the outset of the five-furlong Windley Key but showed her gameness by putting away early challenger Aquinnah in late stretch before withstanding a final surge from Tesalina. The latter might have been best if not for having to steady briefly splitting horses leaving the turn, after which she finished best of all and just missed. Catching Fireflies, who loomed boldly outside the leaders but hung at the end, finished another neck farther back in third.  

Jewel of a Cat, a 5-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir, paid $4.80 in the field of eight filly and mare turf sprint specialists.

“She’s a very quality mare,” said Vaccarezza.  “They put a lot of pressure on her today, and she showed me a lot of what she was made out of today. She likes it here at Gulfstream. She won here a year and a half ago for Ben Perkins, and she also beat the boys last time at Gulfstream West.  We’re debating to breed her to Empire Maker, but as long as she keeps winning, we’ll probably keep her in training one more year. Right now, there’s really no reason to retire her. Whether we breed her at 6 or 7, it doesn’t really matter.”

Vaccarezza said Jewel of a Cat would make her next start against males in the Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 16.