On the morning after becoming a graded stakes winner, Wildcat Red proudly walked the shedrow at trainer Jose Garoffalo's Gulfstream Park barn following his authoritative win in Saturday's Grade 3 Hutcheson.
"He's very smart. He knows that there is something different around him," Garoffalo said. "He looks good, to tell you the truth; very good, very fresh, very full of himself. He ate up everything last night and came out of the stall this morning very nicely. It's all good."
In his third stakes attempt, and first in graded company, Wildcat Red settled behind the early leaders before taking command approaching the top of the stretch and steadily pulling away for a 4 3/4-length win in 1:22 1/5 for seven furlongs.
Unlike his previous races, where he had shown a habit of drifting out in the stretch, Wildcat Red was kept straight to the wire by Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano, who had the call on the bay colt for the first time.
"He showed me yesterday that he was very focused now in what he's doing," Garoffalo remarked. "He relaxed himself and he's getting mature mentally. That's one thing he needed, to get focused on business. He has the talent, but he needed to focus to do the job. That's a very good sign of mental improvement."
Owned by Honors Stable Corp., Wildcat Red has three wins and two seconds in five lifetime starts, all at Gulfstream. He made his stakes bow in the Juvenile Sprint last November, winning by 1 1/4 lengths before being disqualified to second. In fact, the only time he's not crossed under the wire first came when losing a head bob to General a Rod in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1.
Both horses are expected to come back in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth on February 22.
"He did the job yesterday with no effort, and he came back in very good shape," Garoffalo said. "We're probably going to the Fountain of Youth, and we see what happens after that. So far, everything looks good."
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth would be the first time around two turns for Wildcat Red, who was forced to skip the 8 1/2-furlong Holy Bull on January 25 with a minor illness.
"If you look at his pedigree he doesn't show much stamina, but the way he's training, the way he relaxes now, I think we could try him around two turns and see what happens," Garoffalo said. "I think when the place is slower, we can go longer."