Kathmanblu Sets Course for Oaks in Sweetest Chant Saturday
Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stable’s 3-year-old filly Kathmanblu ranked among the leaders of her division last year after finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G2) and winning the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, is entered to make her 2011 debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
However, trainer Ken McPeek has one caution for Kathmanblu’s appearance in Saturday’s race, carded for one mile on turf. “We want the race to be run on grass because of the two turns. The goal is the (Kentucky) Oaks, but we’re not necessarily going to go if the race doesn’t go two turns,” said the trainer Wednesday morning.
McPeek was referring to the fact that if wet conditions forced the Sweetest Chant off the turf, it would be run at one-mile around one turn on the main track. “We nominated to the race in New Orleans (Saturday’s $100,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at one mile & 40 yards), but decided to take our chances and stay here.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux retains the mount on Kathmanblu in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies as she makes her first start since an 8 ½ lengths romp in the Golden Rod on the main track at Churchill on Nov. 27 after making her four previous starts on turf. The Kentucky homebred daughter of freshman sire Bluegrass Cat was beaten two lengths by the winner in the Breeders’ Cup with trouble in the race.
Certain to attract support is Glen Hill Farm’s Florida homebred Holidaysatthefarm with Jose Lezcano in the saddle for trainer Tom Proctor. The daughter of Smarty Jones just missed last out when rallying in the stretch for second by a half-length as the odds-on choice in the John Franks Juvenile Turf at Calder on Nov. 13 following victories on turf at Belmont Park and Keeneland.
Another solid contender is Florence Patitucci’s War Prospector with Rajiv Maragh named to ride for trainer Juan Vasquez. The daughter of War Front has won both of her starts on turf, breaking her maiden over the Delaware Park course in late August in her third career start and an allowance over the Gulfstream course here on opening day, Jan. 5.
The big question mark in the field will be Brous Stable and partners’ Tiger Girl, to be ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer Bill Mott. The daughter of Hold That Tiger has won four of nine starts at tracks in Louisiana and Texas. She has won two of three on turf with a second, including stakes victories at Louisiana Downs and Retama Park, but will bid to bounce back from a 10th-place finish in the six-furlong Louisiana Lassie at Fair Grounds on Dec. 11.
Completing the field are Roger Chapman’s Bellaridge, Tony Farina; Gatewood Bell and Wesley Ward’s Nina Fever, Jeffrey Sanchez; Michael Tabor’s Excited, John Velazquez; Henco Inc. and partners’ Michelle’s Trip, Elvis Trujillo; and Ione and Herb Elkins’ Greatest Dream, Juan Leyva, the latter entered ‘main track only’ by trainer Bill Kaplan.