Updated on 09/16/2011 6:38AM

Snow hopes his patience with Cruising Kat pays off


ALBANY, Calif. - Derby Week begins Wednesday at Golden Gate Fields.

The Golden Gate Derby on Saturday is the West's first step on the Triple Crown trail. The Grade 3 event has even produced one Kentucky Derby winner, Real Quiet in 1998.

Trainer Daryl Snow will send out Cruising Kat in the $125,000, 1 1/16-mile race.

Snow's preparations for the race include a final work on Tuesday. His star also gets an extra look in the morning when Snow arrives at the barn and at night before Snow departs.

"He's getting a little bit of extra attention now. We want to make sure everything is all right," Snow said.

The Golden Gate Derby would be the first graded stakes that Snow has won in the United States, although he has graded wins in Canada. While the Kentucky Derby is still one of the furthest things from his mind, Snow has saddled one runner, Rear Admiral, in Canada's Queen's Plate.

Snow has had his eyes on the Golden Gate Derby ever since he got Cruising Kat, a gelded son of Katahaula County out of the Steady Growth mare County Future, in his barn.

"We had this in mind all along," Snow said. "We didn't rush him. We turned him out when he got a snotty nose. We X-rayed his knees early and found they were open and gave him more time. We knew he'd be running down here this winter."

Cruising Kat was originally supposed to be named Tom Cruise, but permission for the name was not received. Naturally, he's known around the barn as Thomas.

He did little, finishing fifth of eight in his debut Oct. 3 at Hastings Park in British Columbia. He won his second start at 6 1/2 furlongs, a race around two turns at Hastings.

"We've been waiting to go long," said Snow, who owns the gelding in partnership with Jason Spevakow. "He's by a Steady Growth mare, and there's no limit how far they go. Katahaula's run long, too."

Cruising Kat has done everything right, including winning a six-furlong allowance race over the track on Dec. 16. He was in heavy traffic and seemingly trapped on the rail when he bulled his way through for the victory.

"There are some pretty nice horses in this race, but I've got printouts, and he has figures that seem comparable," Snow said.

One threat that concerns Snow is Danthebluegrassman, a wire-to-wire winner of the Dec. 15 Gold Rush Stakes. "I know he will be tough to catch, but we should be able to sit off him," Snow said of Danthebluegrassman. "We may be closer than they were in the other race without using him."

As with many 3-year-olds, Cruising Kat has grown dramatically.

"He's grown so much we're all laughing," Show said. "In the spring, he was a stubby, little butterball. Now he's quite tall, but he's not heavy.

"This is a big race, but the more I'm around him and the more people get on him, they're pretty reassuring he'll fit. My exercise girl says she hasn't reached the bottom yet."

* Wednesday's feature at Golden Gate Fields is a six-furlong starter allowance race for 3-year-olds who have started for a claiming price of $32,000 or less. Court's In Session, fifth when beaten by only three lengths in a $50,000 claimer at Hollywood Park on Dec. 17, could prove the one to beat in the field of eight.

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