Confidently ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, even-money favorite
Stephanie’s Kitten burst through an opening in deep stretch and powered to a
half-length victory over Centre Court in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Woodford
Reserve Lake Placid at Saratoga Race Course.
Saving ground along the rail in
third as Medolina led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.62 seconds, a half
in 48.88 and three-quarters in 1:13.25, Stephanie’s Kitten was ready to pounce
but had nowhere to go as the field of six 3-year-old turf fillies barreled down
the lane. Patiently waiting behind horses, Velazquez finally spotted an
opportunity inside the eighth pole and guided the Kitten’s Joy filly to the
outside, where she kicked into high gear en route to the win.
Her time for the 1 1/8 miles over
the firm inner turf course was 1:48.51.
“When I asked, she responded
right away,” said Velazquez. “It was a great effort by her and an incredible
last eighth. I know she has it in her, and as soon as I pulled her out and hit
her with the whip she responded right away, so I was very impressed at the way
she did it.”
It was the second victory in four
2012 starts for Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred filly, who was fourth, beaten
just a half-length by Centre Court, after encountering traffic problems in the
Grade 2 Lake George on July 25.
“I was a little more cautious
about it today; last time the spot was there and I gunned into the spot without
any hesitation,” said Velazquez. “Today, I took my time and said, ‘Let me see
where I’m going to go. Am I going to go between them, or go around them little
by little until I know where I am going?’ Once I got her out, she responded
right away. The extra distance wasn’t a concern.”
Centre Court was three-quarters
of a length ahead of Somali Lemonade, with Medolina, Better Lucky, and
Disposablepleasure completing the order of finish.
“My filly ran the whole way and
she kicked home; she just got outrun,” said Rusty Arnold, trainer of the
runner-up. “It was a very nice race. I’m thrilled to death with her. You never
want to get beat, but we’re thrilled.”
Stephanie’s Kitten returned $4.20
for a $2 win bet and became a millionaire with the winner’s purse of $120,000,
having now earned $1,104,082. Overall, she is 5-0-3 from nine starts, including
victories in the Edgewood in May at Churchill
Downs and last year’s Grade 1 Alcibiades and Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Next up for Stephanie’s Kitten
likely will be the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 13 at
Keeneland Race Course, followed by the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on November
2-3, said winning trainer Wayne Catalano.
“We mapped out a little plan;
hopefully it all works out,” he said.