Owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers, always well placed under jockey Bernie Dalton, took command on Saratoga Race Course’s final turn, flew over the final fence, and drew away to a 3 3/4-length victory in Thursday’s $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes.
Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run, the reigning Life’s Illusion filly and mare champion, followed Cat Feathers into the stretch and leveled off through the drive. The 1.75-to-1 favorite, Kisser N Run finished second in a field of seven fillies and mares.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Brilliant Match set the pace for most of the Mrs. Phipps and finished 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third under Darren Nagle, who recently returned from a broken leg sustained in a March training accident. Arcadia Stable’s Opera Heroine finished fourth.
A New York-bred by Catienus, Cat Feathers ran the Mrs. Phipps’ 2 1/16 miles in 3:49.74 on a firm inner turf course.
The victory was Cat Feathers’ second in the Mrs. Phipps and her first win since that 2012 race. The diminutive six-year-old mare parlayed her Mrs. Phipps win into that year’s Life’s Illusion trophy as the National Steeplechase Association’s champion female performer.
“Any win in Saratoga is what you strive for, but to win something several times is just wonderful,” Kate Dalton said. “It just sets a horse up to have a little more of a following. Any following we get for steeplechasing is just great.”
Indeed, a crowd of Saratoga fans packed the trackside rail and cheered Cat Feathers into the winner’s circle. “She’s a really, really great mare. I’m glad she has some fans,” the trainer said.
Still, she had some concern when her husband placed Cat Feathers in an inside position. “She normally doesn’t like to be on the inside,” she said, but “Bernie gave her a great ride, saved ground.”
Because of a broken collarbone, Bernie Dalton missed Cat Feathers’ most recent start, a fourth-place finish in an open conditioned allowance hurdle at Parx Racing on July 1, but he said she came out of the race in top shape and trained forwardly to the Mrs. Phipps.
Cat Feathers showed no displeasure with being on the inside as Brilliant Match set a respectable pace and moved into second position on the second run down Saratoga’s backstretch. “I kicked on from the second last from home,” the jockey said.
Cat Feathers rolled to the lead as she cut the corner into the final turn, and Robbie Walsh kicked on Kisser N Run. Under pressure, Kisser N Run drew within two lengths at the last fence, but Cat Feathers soared over the obstacle and widened her advantage. Dalton glanced back to be sure no one was closing on Cat Feathers and hand-rode her to the finish line. “She won very easily, and we couldn’t be happier,” he said. “Kate did a great job with her.”