Quiet Kitten Looks to Extend Streak in $75,000 Cellars Shiraz
Trainer Excited about Valid’s Chances in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Though it was unclear whether he would make it back from Kentucky in time, trainer Marcus Vitali looms a major presence with contenders in each of two turf stakes that highlight Saturday’s 11-race card at Gulfstream Park West.
Multiple stakes winner Bluegrass Singer returns to the grass in the $75,000 Showing Up for males, and the improving Quiet Kitten puts her win streak on the line as the 4-5 program favorite in the $75,000 Cellars Shiraz for fillies. Both races are restricted to 3-year-olds and run at one mile.
Vitali kicks off a busy stakes weekend saddling multiple graded stakes winner Valid in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland Race Course. He also has morning-line favorite Miss Wilby entered in the $75,000 John Kirby Stakes Saturday at Suffolk Downs.
“I think my horses are all doing well and put in the right spots. We’re going to hope for the best over the weekend,” Vitali said. “We’ve got a busy weekend. We’re looking forward to it.”
Bluegrass Singer captured the Mucho Macho Man Jan. 3 going a mile on dirt at Gulfstream Park, and has been winless in five starts, the last three of them in graded stakes, since taking the Parx Derby May 2. He hasn’t raced since finishing last of six in the Smarty Jones (G3) Aug. 29 at Parx.
Owned by Crossed Sabres Farm, Bluegrass Cat drew post seven in a field of 12 that includes multiple stakes winner My Point Exactly, stakes winners Rizwan and Courtier, Grade 3-placed Tiz My Valentine and Watchyourownbobber, and $1.15 million yearling purchase Tennessee, making his stakes debut.
“He’s been freshened up and he’s been training real good. I just think the level of competition will suit him better,” Vitali said. “It’s hopefully going to be a little confidence booster for the next step. He hasn’t run in a while, so I figured that would be a good starting point.”
Crossed Sabres Farm also owns Quiet Kitten, who drew post five in a field of 15 that includes Curlin’s Princess entered for main track only. Among the competition are stakes winners Red Sashay and Westminister Road, and stakes-placed Susie Bee, Discreetly Grand, Ice Festival and Cardinal Cove.
Quiet Kitten enters the Cellars Shiraz off back-to-back wins by nine combined lengths, both under jockey Matt Rispoli, who gets a return call. Claimed in March during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet, each of her latest two victories came against older horses including her most recent going 1 1/16 miles Sept. 24 at Gulfstream, where she set a career-high 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
“Her numbers have been going up and she’s been getting really good. The filly seems like she wants to run,” Vitali said. “She’s one of those kinds of horses that’s growing and getting stronger and bigger, and looks to me like she’s developing into a decent racehorse.”
Vitali, 55, will be making his Breeders’ Cup debut with Valid, winner of the Fred Hooper (G3) Feb. 7 at Gulfstream going a mile on dirt. The 5-year-old gelded son of 2002 and 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-up Medaglia d’Oro enters the Dirt Mile off a pair of wins: the Philip Iselin (G3) Aug. 30 at Monmouth Park and the seven-furlong Groomstick Stakes Sept. 26 at Gulfstream.
“He’s doing great. Everything is great. He was real strong today and yesterday,” Vitali said. “He’s eating good. I’m watching him eat right now. He’s doing everything right. We couldn’t ask him to come into a race better. If he runs as good as he’s acting, we should maybe get our picture taken.”
Valid drew post 10 of 11 in the Dirt Mile, the second of four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday's 10-race card. The even-money program favorite is Liam’s Map, who edged Valid by a half-length in the Harlan’s Holiday last December at Gulfstream.
“I think if we came that close last time, why can’t we have a repeat? Maybe this time the tide will turn in our favor,” Vitali said. “You have to respect all of them. There’s a lot of nice horses in there. I’m very upbeat and very excited to be in the Breeders’ Cup. I’m not letting it get to me. You can’t let the excitement get in the way until after the fact. Right now, it’s business as usual. It’s definitely an honor and a privilege to make it this far.”