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Union Avenue Preview: Carrera Cat Returns to Defend Title
Carrera Cat winning the 2019 Union Avenue (Credit: NYRA)

Union Avenue Preview: Carrera Cat Returns to Defend Title

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Trainer John Morrison’s Carrera Cat returns to defend her title while making her 2020 debut in Thursday’s $85,000 Union Avenue Handicap at Saratoga.

“She’s doing fine,” Morrison said. “We actually had her ready to run when Belmont re-opened, but she got sick on us and we lost a couple of weeks. This race is the next natural spot for her, so we’ll see how she does.”

The Union Avenue is a 7-furlong dirt sprint restricted to New York-bred fillies and mares 3 and up. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card with a local post time of 5:17 PM Eastern.

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Here is a look at the full field for the Union Avenue:

1. Ratajkowski 6/5 – She waited until nearly halfway through 2019 before making her career debut as a 5-year-old, but she quickly made an impact against New York-breds, putting together a 6-4-1-1 record that year. Off for nearly seven months, she won her first start for new trainer Graham Motion last time out in the Critical Eye Stakes at Belmont Park on June 18.

2. Forever Changed 20/1 – She made her seasonal debut against open company allowance foes at Belmont Park on June 20, getting eased after never showing much interest. The top two finishers moved on to bigger and better things: the winner, Indian Pride, doubled up in the Shine Again Stakes, and Mrs. Danvers was in last weekend’s Test Stakes (G1).

3. Mrs. Orb 6/1 – She missed upsetting Ratajkowski by a neck in the Critical Eye last time out, her first start in over four months. She was red-hot last fall and winter, winning 4 straight including the 1 1/8-mile Bay Ridge Stakes against New York-breds and open allowance company a month prior.

4. Collegeville Girl 15/1 – She toppled open allowance rivals at Parx last time out for her fifth victory in 11 dirt starts. She has won 2 of her past 3 efforts, but she will need to make a marked improvement upon her career-best 82 Beyer speed figure if she wants to contend with – or upset – the top horses in this field.

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5. Carrera Cat 5/1 – The defending champion returns from a lengthy layoff after ending last season with three straight off-the-board efforts following the Union Avenue. Aggressive gate jockey Kendrick Carmouche takes the mount aboard the speedy 5-year-old mare for the first time since her juvenile season.

“Kendrick says she loves the track,” Morrison said. “She worked very nicely and I’m hoping it will translate to a good effort on Thursday. He actually rode her in her 2-year-old year, but she’s a lot better physically now than when he used to ride her, so I wanted him to get familiar with her again.”

6. Newly Minted 7/5 – The consistent Linda Rice trainee has only missed the board once while compiling a 10-5-3-1 record that includes dominating last summer’s local Fleet Indian Stakes by 9 lengths. Away since running second in March’s Heavenly Prize Stakes against open company, she keeps Rice’s go-to rider Jose Lezcano; they have a 25% strike rate together since 2019.

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