08/24/2009 12:00AM

Maragh averts disaster aboard Nehantic Kat


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- As Nehantic Kat was rallying into contention around the far turn of Sunday's $110,000 at Saratoga, trainer Barclay Tagg's belief that his mare could win was starting to become reality.

Then, as he watched jockey Jose Lezcano, aboard Crazy Catlady, nearly put Nehantic Kat and jockey Rajiv Maragh over the rail nearing the five-sixteenths pole, Tagg thought all was lost.

"Here, I thought I had a good chance of winning and the whole thing's shot," Tagg said. "And then here she came."

After taking a few strides to gather up his mare, Maragh guided Nehantic Kat to the six-path in upper stretch and Nehantic Kat rallied powerfully through the lane to win the Yaddo for New York-bred fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over Vivi's Book. It was three-quarters of a length back to Crazy Catlady, who got third by a neck over Chestoria.

It was the sixth victory from 14 career starts for Nehantic Kat, a 6-year-old daughter of Tomorrows Cat owned by Gary Orefice's Statehouse Stable.

"That was a nice kick. It looks like she can come from a little further back than we usually have her," Tagg said.

Maragh had Nehantic Kat in front of just one horse through the opening half-mile and about 13 lengths back as Love Cove set the pace chased by Stormy Relations. Maragh advanced Nehantic Kat into contention through the inside and was starting to slide along the inside when Lezcano came over on him.

"I got in there on the turf then Jose Lezcano wanted to put me up very close against the fence," Maragh said. "I was almost already in there, but he forced me to check just to protect my horse. He really bounced me off the rail and that lost my momentum."

Maragh said he was not surprised that Nehantic Kat was able to recover and rally because she hadn't been going very fast up to that point.

"Because they were going really slow I knew she's going to have a lot left," Maragh said.

Nehantic Kat covered the 1 1/8 miles over soft turf in 1:53.03 and returned $7.80 as the favorite.