11/24/2008 12:00AM

Wishful Tomcat leads pack


Making good use of his inside post position, Wishful Tomcat grabbed the early lead and turned back a late bid from That'srightofficer in Saturday's $110,100 Discovery Handicap, as New York-breds finished one-two in the Grade 3 event for 3-year-olds.

Wishful Tomcat ($16.20), coming off back-to-back wins in overnight stakes on turf at Belmont for trainer Gary Contessa, broke alertly under Ramon Dominguez in the 1 1/8-mile race and maintained a short lead on the rail while pressed by Web Gem and Lieutenant Ron through fractions of 24.23 seconds, 48.66, and 1:14.24. Wishful Tomcat opened up daylight turning for home and was two lengths clear in midstretch after a mile in 1:40.09. He held That'srightofficer safe to win by 1 3/4 lengths after 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.28 over a fast but dull main track.

"We wanted to take advantage of his post position and his tactical speed," said Dominguez. "Gary knew the horse to the outside [Lieutenant Ron] had speed. I found myself in front and just let him roll. I didn't know how much horse I was going to have turning for home, but when I asked him, he re-broke all over again and finished up full of run."

Wishful Tomcat is now 5 for 6 at a mile or longer.

"He has a heart of gold," said Contessa, who saddled his meet-leading 16th winner. "All I can say is, 'Watch out for New York-breds!' I would like to see him dominate stakes races here this winter. It's extra cold today - maybe it will push out the Florida trainers sooner."

That'srightofficer saved ground until the stretch, angled outward, and finished gamely to finish a clear second over Ready Set, for his fourth straight runner-up finish in a 1 1/8-mile stakes race. Coach Shaw rallied to get fourth at 50-1. Lieutenant Ron, making his first start beyond seven furlongs, pressed the pace while wide and faded to fifth as the 5-4 favorite, followed by Premium Gold and Web Gem.

On a wind-chilled day of upsets, 4 out of 6 winners was good enough for a consolation payoff of $925 in the pick six. There was a $45,402 carryover into Sunday.