Touchdown Kitten Wins Career Debut
Zayas Posts Seventh Consecutive Multiple-Win Day
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - With the start of football season just a few days away, it was only fitting that Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Touchdown Kitten would score Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream in his career debut.
The son of Kitten’s Joy was most impressive in his racing debut, a maiden special weight event for 2-year-olds. As so many sons and daughters of 2013’s top-ranked American sire have done, Touchdown Kitten relished the turf course and the 1 1/16 mile distance. After stalking the front-running A Bit Quick through the early stages, Touchdown Kitten made his bid around the far turn and took over the lead at the top of the stretch. The more experienced A Bit Quick, already with two starts under his belt, was not finished, however, and reclaimed the lead. But Touchdown Kitten, showing a maturity that’s rare in horses with such inexperience, dug in gamely under jockey Manoel Cruz and got a neck back in front as the two crossed the wire.
“When I turned for home, he put about a half-length in front, and when I whipped him left-handed, I thought he was going to open up, but he started hanging in,” Cruz explained. “I don’t think he liked that. But I hung in there, because he’s a game horse. I switched back to my right hand, and he responded again. It was nice for a 2-year-old to come back like that. He didn’t give up.”
Lars Becdelamotte, on hand to saddle Touchdown Kitten while trainer Wesley Ward is out of town, was equally impressed.
“It’s amazing how these Kitten’s Joys step it up on the grass,” Becdelamotte said. “[Touchdown Kitten] hadn’t shown a lot on the dirt in the mornings, but he definitely took to the grass today, and we’re really happy about it. The horse showed heart, and the jockey found a little left in him, and that was great.”
Touchdown Kitten covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.30 and paid $5.80 to win. A Bit Quick paid $3.60 to place, and Decisive Decision ($3.20), another son of Kitten’s Joy, finished third, nine lengths behind the top two.
Balthazar Sees Beyond Limitations in Saturday Allowance
When the horses rounded the far turn in the eighth race, a turf allowance for 3-year-olds and upward, it appeared as though jockey Edgard Zayas was asking the favored Balthazar for run, and the colt wasn’t responding.
However, that was just an illusion. When Zayas angled Balthazar to the outside, the 4-year-old took off, rallying from five-wide to take the lead in mid-stretch and draw off to victory. The son of Red Giant and the Seeking the Gold mare Dina Gold posted a winning margin of 2 ¾ lengths over familiar rival Rompin Reid, whom Balthazar had faced in each of his last three starts, and the lightly raced Steel N Pack.
Winning trainer Marty Wolfson had full confidence in his horse’s chances, especially when the colt was able to make an outside move. Saving ground on the inside is not an option for Balthazar, because he cannot see out of his left eye.
“He has no vision in one eye, so when he’s on the inside, he’s just too scared,” Wolfson explained. “Edgard knows him now. You just have to let him suck himself back and then go around.”
Balthazar broke through with a confidence-boosting win after enduring close defeats in his last two starts, having lost consecutive allowances by a combined 1½ lengths. However, he trained very encouragingly leading up to Saturday’s race, posting the bullet four-furlong breeze on Monday. That led Wolfson to believe the colt has a future on the main track.
“I really believe he’s better on dirt,” Wolfson said. “I think he’s a much better dirt horse. He always works great on the dirt. His only win was on synthetic. I don’t think he’s that crazy about turf. I knew he would win this, to get that by him, but I think he’s just better on dirt, I really do.”
Balthazar’s final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.60. He paid $3.40 to win.
Who’s Hot: Leading rider Edgard Zayas posted his seventh straight multiple-win day Saturday, winning four races, including the eighth with Balthazar and the featured $90,000 Monarchos Stakes with the highly-regarded Atreides ($2.40). Zayas’ earlier wins came in the first and fourth races aboard Van Citra ($4.20) and Subtle Humor ($7.00), respectively. Zayas has won 22 races in the past seven racing days.
“It feels exciting,” Zayas said. “I had good horses this week and last week. I’ve been lucky and I’ve put in a lot of work, and I’m doing good.”
Jocy Gomez also posted multiple wins on the card. She had a double with Fiesta Rose ($4.00) in the third and Ya Esta ($2.60) in the seventh.
Trainer Marty Wolfson led all trainers on the day with his two winners. He took the eighth and ninth with Zayas’ mounts Balthazar and Atreides.
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