Updated on 09/16/2011 6:40AM

Pace should aid Cat Cay's late kick

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Fast-closing Cat Cay (inside) nips Tugger last year in the Nov. 23 First Flight Handicap at Aqueduct, one of her two stakes wins within a 34-day span.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - When Shug McGaughey shipped Cat Cay out of Payson Park last April, he thought the regally bred filly was going to have a big year. McGaughey had to settle for a big month instead.

After a disappointing spring and summer, * finally realized her promise in the fall, winning a pair of graded stakes in a 34-day span. McGaughey hopes Cat Cay can continue her prowess Friday when she begins her 5-year-old season in the Grade 3, $100,000 The First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

A field of eight was entered for the six-furlong stakes, including the coupled entry of stakes winners Raging Fever and Gold Mover from the owner/trainer tandem of Edward Evans and Mark Hennig.

As a daughter of Pleasant Colony out of the Alydar mare Cadillacing, Cat Cay is bred to run long. But, she defined herself as a late-running sprinter with last-to-first stakes victories last fall at Keeneland and Aqueduct.

Given her fabulous bloodlines, it would not have been surprising to see Cat Cay head for the breeding shed this year. But with the retirement of Country Hideaway, Finder's Fee, Indy Pick, and others, "we needed something to run," McGaughey said.

As McGaughey perused the list of probable starters for The First Lady, he was heartened to see the number of speed fillies in the field.

Raging Fever, Mandy's Gold, and Vague Memory all have done their best running on the front end so the pace figures to be honest. Vague Memory figures to gun from the rail as she did in winning the Chaposa Springs.

Raging Fever, a multiple Grade 1-winning 2-year-old, missed most of her 3-year-old season due to a fractured growth plate in her stifle. In the Garland of Roses on Dec. 8 at Aqueduct, Raging Fever flashed her brilliant speed in recording a gate-to-wire victory. Hennig immediately shipped her to Gulfstream, the track where she was upset when she made her 3-year-old debut last March.

Raging Fever's conqueror that day was Mandy's Gold, who has run only once since knocking off Raging Fever in the Dame Mysterieuse Stakes. That race was the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct where Mandy's Gold crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified for interference in the stretch. Nagging injuries have kept her away from the races since, and she figures to be fast and fresh on Friday.

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