July 15, 2024

Catnip pounces in Monmouth; Consumer Spending strong in Eatontown

Catnip (blinkers) collars Never Explain in the Monmouth Stakes (Photo By Joe Labozzetta/Equi-Photo)

John and Susan Moore sold their Grade 2-winning homebred Princess Grace last November, but her half-brother Catnip is now stepping up to be her successor. Likewise trained by Mike Stidham, Catnip rolled late in Saturday’s $150,000 Monmouth (G3) and accordingly entered calculations for the July 22 United Nations (G1) back on the Jersey Shore.  

The 1 1/8-mile Monmouth was a proper class test, with 2021 United Nations hero Tribhuvan, last-out Dinner Party (G3) winner Never Explain, and Hollywood Derby (G1) scorer Speaking Scout in the line-up. Catnip had tried stakes company only once before, finishing sixth in last year’s Virginia Derby (G3) straight off his maiden win. But the lightly-raced four-year-old captured both starts this spring, an entry-level allowance at Keeneland and a second-level event at Monmouth Park, and continued his upward curve here.

Dispatched as a 6.20-1 chance with Joel Rosario, Catnip initially stalked in second as free-wheeling Tribhuvan carved out splits of :24.01 and :47.89 on the form turf. The whole dynamic changed, however, on the backstretch.

Speaking Scout launched a middle move from last, influencing Never Explain to hustle to improve as well. As a result, Catnip suddenly found himself relegated toward the back of the pack by the six-furlong mark in 1:11.83. But Rosario sat chilly and let things unfold until he was ready to turn Catnip loose.

Never Explain appeared to be making the most of his early bid, collaring Tribhuvan on the far turn and driving clear in the stretch. Speaking Scout was trying to inch closer without seriously threatening.

Then Catnip was delivered, and the well-named son of Kitten’s Joy got up by a half-length in 1:47.40. Never Explain, the 124-pound highweight, was a length up on Speaking Scout, while Tribhuvan tired to fourth in his seasonal reappearance. Considering that he hadn’t run since his sixth in last summer’s Sword Dancer (G1), Tribhuvan figures to strip fitter in the United Nations. Commandeer and Dynadrive concluded the order under the wire.

Catnip, who paid $14.40, boosted his earnings to $239,849 from his 7-4-0-1 line. He has a way to go to fill the shoes of his millionaire half-sister, Princess Grace, both out of the multiple stakes-placed Silent Name mare Masquerade.

Princess Grace, who took a Monmouth Park allowance during her sophomore campaign in 2020, won or placed in 13 stakes. She broke through with her first stakes victory in that fall’s Mrs. Revere (G3). Her other scores came in the 2021 Yellow Ribbon (G2) and Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) as well as back-to-back editions of the Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3). Since selling to China Horse Club for $1.7 million, Princess Grace was shipped to Australia, where she added the April 22 Hawkesbury Crown (G3) for trainer Chris Waller.

Earlier in the $150,000 Eatontown (G3), Klaravich Stables’ Consumer Spending accelerated best off a slow pace to register her fourth stakes win. The Chad Brown trainee was let go as a 9-2 chance, despite coming off a runner-up effort in the Beaugay (G3) to stablemate Marketsegmentation, who just came back to upset the New York (G1). Favoritism in the Eatontown went to the third-placer from the Beaugay, Surprisingly, off at 1.30-1.

Confidently handled by Samy Camacho, Consumer Spending bided her time in fourth as Vergara waltzed through fractions of :25.36, :49.74, and 1:13.50. Brown’s better-fancied runner, the 2.60-1 Gina Romantica, was well placed in a tracking second, but she couldn’t lift quite as effectively when the pace ratcheted up.

Vergara turned on the afterburners in the stretch, only to have a couple of rivals surpass her. Consumer Spending swept on the outside, while Surprisingly threaded the needle on the rail. Their comparative positions, and the six pounds that Surprisingly conceded, may have been the decisive factors. Consumer Spending prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:42.

Surprisingly headed Vergara for second. Gina Romantica, who was resurfacing from her Oct. 15 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) success, was another half-length back in fourth. Spirit and Glory and Malavath were respectively fifth and sixth (last) at every call. Scotish Star and Katies a Lady were scratched.

Consumer Spending sports a mark of 10-5-2-1, $557,000. The winner of the 2021 Selima S. and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), she returned triumphant in the 2022 Memories of Silver S. and Wonder Again (G2). The More Than Ready filly rallied for third on the stretch-out to 1 1/4 miles in the Belmont Oaks (G1), then headed to the sidelines following a fourth in the Lake Placid (G2).

The $200,000 Fasig-Tipton yearling was bred by Forging Oaks Farm in Kentucky. The gray inherits her color from her dam, the Scat Daddy mare Siempre Mia, who is herself out of the multiple Grade 3-winning gray Shaconage, by El Prado.