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Freshman sire Bluegrass Cat (b h, 2003, by Storm Cat x She’s a Winner, by AP Indy) began the meet in Lexington when his first Keeneland starter, Speed Demon, picked up ground late to run third in the season-opening race on Friday.

The Lion Heart colt Weekend Wildcat gained the lead in the first race late in the stretch but was pipped for victory at the wire by the Successful Appeal colt Wetzel. The latter had pushed early leader Sweet William through a quarter in :22.28, claimed a half-mile fraction of :45.24, lost the lead to Weekend Wildcat, but caught victory in the last stride.

In his debut, Weekend Wildcat started well but did not have quite the gate speed of Sweet William and Wetzel (who broke on top), tracked the early pace of Sweet William and Wetzel in third, then moved to the outside around the turn, and gained a narrow lead with less than a furlong to race. Wetzel responded to the new challenge as Weekend Wildcat drifted toward Wetzel and the rail, then won the race in a head-bobbing finish.

Speed Demon lagged early among these highly precocious youngsters but picked up ground through the stretch, while running wide, and finished a respectable third.

Bluegrass Cat stands at WinStar Farm and is one of the most prominent freshmen sires among this year’s group, which also includes Bernardini, Henny Hughes, and First Samurai. A muscular and typey horse, Bluegrass Cat showed his best form at 3, winning the G1 Haskell and running second in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Travers. The stallion has 118 foals in his first crop of racers.