Cats Inthe Timber guts out Weber City Miss win

After her stablemate was forced to scratch for the second straight race with a nagging foot issue, Haymarket Farm homebred Cats Inthe Timber stepped up with a gusty half-length victory over Crypto Mama in Saturday’s $125,000 Weber City Miss at Laurel Park.

In its eighth year, the Weber City Miss once again gives the winner an automatic berth to the 99th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 19 at historic Pimlico Race Course. Of the six previous winners that went on to Pimlico, Lights of Medina came the closest to sweeping both races when she was second by a head in 2017 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

Jockey Jevian Toledo, riding Cats Inthe Timber for the first time, won his second Weber City Miss following Las Setas in 2019. It was the first for trainer Brittany Russell, who one race earlier ran second by a length to Alwasyinahurry with Hello Hot Rod in the $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley.

“That was a nice surprise. It’s been a rollercoaster of a day,” Russell said. “This filly is tough. She’s just game. You put her beside a horse and she’s going to fight.”

Cats Inthe Timber was unhurried in the early going saving ground early as multiple stakes winner Girl Trouble, the 3-5 favorite, loped through easy splits of 25.03 and 50.98 seconds chased by Crypto Mama and 50-1 long shot Cynergy’s Electra. Toledo tipped out on the backstretch to give his filly clear run, and she responded kindly to get into a contending position.

“To be honest I was hoping to break better and be right there the whole way, following [Crypto Mama] and [Girl Trouble]. They were the horses to beat. They kind of slowed down so I came over on the first turn then I took her to the outside on the backstretch to keep her close,” Toledo said. “When my filly got some dirt in the beginning, she didn’t really like it much so I just kept her in the clear on the backstretch and on the turn. I kept her face clean and when I asked her, she was pretty brave.”

Cats Inthe Timber
Cats Inthe Timber and Jevian Toledo won the Weber City Miss. Photo by Allison Janezic.

Once Girl Trouble began to drop back along the inside on the far turn, Toledo set his sights on Crypto Mama who had taken the lead at the top of the stretch. The two battled side-by-side through the final furlong with Cats Inthe Timber edging clear late to finish up in 1:47.42 over a fast main track.

“[Crypto Mama] kind of came out and bumped me and she kept fighting. My filly is a tiny filly, but she’s got a big heart. She fought all the way to the wire,” Toledo said. “She impressed me a lot. I know it was a short field, but you had some decent horses in there and she’d run against less company. We always ride to win the race. We were hoping she’d run a good race and she ran more than good. She ran great.”

It was 1 ¾ lengths back to Six the Hard Way in third, followed by Cynergy’s Electra, Ginger Girl and Girl Trouble. The Russell-trained Pharoahs Baby Gyal, who was also withdrawn from the March 18 Beyond The Wire and is now unraced since her 10 ½-length victory Jan. 13, was the lone scratch.

“She’s fine. She just has a foot that’s been niggling her,” Russell said. “We came in this morning and it wasn’t as good as it was yesterday so we just made the decision that the right thing to do is forget today and let’s get it right.”

Russell and the owners have another decision looming, whether to step Cats Inthe Timber up to graded company in the $300,000 Black-Eyed Susan on the eve of the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1).

“Yeah, I’d like to think we’d take a swing. She’s taking the right steps forward, so I’ll talk to the team and see what they would like to do,” she said. “There’s not a lot to her but she has a big stride. When you watch her train in the morning, she covers a lot of ground. She handled today really well.”

Weber City Miss won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Hilltop and finished second in the Alabama (G1) and third in the Ladies Handicap (G1) to be named Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old filly of 1980. Nine of her 17 career wins came in stakes, including the 1982 Beldame (G1). As a broodmare, her first foal was multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Slew City Slew.

NOTES In the day’s first of four stakes, Beth’s Dream powered to a popular two-length win in the $100,000 Heavenly Cause. Beth’s Dream, a dominant allowance winner in her prior start, was ridden by Jaime Rodriguez for trainer Victor Barboza. She is owned by her breeders, James and Virginia Gamble…