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Charming Kitten Bids to Keep Kitten’s Joy a Family Affair
Ken and Sarah Ramsey raced 2004 Eclipse Award turf champion Kitten’s Joy and continue to stand the very successful world class stallion at their Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. while racing a string of his accomplished offspring since they first came to the races in 2009.
Sunday, trainer Todd Pletcher will send out the Ramseys’ homebred 3-year-old colt Charming Kitten as one of the one of the favorites in the 2nd running of the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Gulfstream Park with jockey John Velazquez in the saddle. They teamed up for a very good runner-up finish in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes over the course on Dec. 15 when beaten a half-length.
“I’m hoping to present the trophy to myself,” said Ken Ramsey. “We’re hoping Kitten’s Joy can have another big weekend here like he did last weekend when Big Blue Kitten was very unlucky not to have finished better than third in the Fort Lauderdale (G3) Saturday and Csaba (for other connections) won his fourth stakes in a row in the Hal’s Hope (G3) Sunday.”
Charming Kitten ran three times before the Dania Beach last year, beginning with a debut victory on turf at Saratoga on July 28 before a very good third-place run as the favorite in the With Anticipation Stakes when beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Balance the Books. Charming Kitten was then tried on Polytrack in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 6, finishing ninth, but was beaten only 4 ¼ lengths for it all by Joha.
The Ramseys will also be represented in Sunday’s race by another son of Kitten’s Joy, Redwood Kitten a gelding trained by Wesley Ward that broke his maiden last out here going a mile on Dec. 7 by 1 ¾ lengths in his fifth start when racing for $65,000 claiming tag and no takers. Jockey Elvis Trujillo has the mount.
Another top contender in the field of eight 3-year-olds drawn for the Kitten’s Joy will be Lothenbach Stable’s Bambazonki with jockey Jose Lezcano in the saddle for trainer Chris Block. The son of Hard Spun was a $100,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase and finished second in his career debut going seven furlongs on Polytrack at Arlington Park on Aug. 30, a race won by Tulira Castle, a candidate for next weekend’s $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3).
Bambazonki came back to break his maiden next out on turf at Arlington on Sept. 23 and then won a turf allowance over the Keeneland course last out on Oct. 19. He was nominated to the Dania Beach but passed.
“We wanted him to have more time to grow up and mature,” said Block, who sent out his 1,000th career winner here last Saturday. “It’s a long year ahead and there will be plenty of opportunities. We thought this was a good starting point with the timing and surface. We’ll evaluate what direction we’ll go with him after that. We’re not ruling out trying any surface.”
Trainer Nick Zito also sends out a promising young prospect that has won both of his starts on turf in Marylou Whitney’s homebred Flying Bird with jockey J.L. Castanon to ride. The chestnut colt by Street Boss finished third, fifth and sixth sprinting on dirt at Belmont Park and Saratoga to begin his career.
Flying Bird made his first start around two turns on turf at Delaware Park on Sept. 26 and won by 4 ½ lengths. He came back with another big effort winning a Churchill Downs turf allowance by two lengths last out on Nov. 24.
Yet a third offspring of Kitten’s Joy is entered in Sunday’s race with Frank L. Jones, Jr. Prado Cat to be ridden by Javier Castellano for trainer Dale Romans, who trained Kitten’s Joy. A $65,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling purchase, Prado Cat broke his maiden over the course here last out on Dec. 21 after a good try when second at Churchill Downs in late November.
Completing the field are Juddmonte Farms’ Fire Guard, Joel Rosario; Christian Maingot and Jose Pinchin’s Saturday Special and Sienna Farms’ Summit County, Corey Lanerie.
Last year’s inaugural edition of the Kitten’s Joy produced a one-two finish by Howe Great and Lucky Chappy, both owned by Team Valor International and trained by Graham Motion. Luis Duco Stable’s Empire Builder, a son of Kitten’s Joy, finished third.