Keeneland Presents American Graded Stakes Standings: Pick of the Litter
There was plenty of racing action from coast to coast last weekend, with nine graded stakes on the tab around the country. Churchill Downs played host to four of those races on Saturday night, led by the G1 Stephen Foster Handicap. A small but select field of six went to post in the nine-furlong contest that saw G1 Breeders' Cup Classic champion Fort Larned go wire to wire to win by 6 ¼ lengths.
In addition to the Foster, Churchill Downs carded the G2 Fleur de Lis, G3 Matt Winn, and G3 Regret Stakes. The victory by Kitten's Dumplings in the Regret moved her breeders, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, into a tie for third with Calumet Farm on the American Graded Stakes Standings owners list. Like Calumet, the Ramseys have bred three graded stakes winners that have won four graded stakes (Kitten's Dumplings; Csaba, G3 Hal's Hope S.; Stephanie's Kitten, G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile & G1 Just a Game). In addition to the Regret, Kitten's Dumplings recorded a victory in the listed Edgewood Stakes last month.
The victory by Kitten's Dumplings provided her sire, Kitten's Joy, with his third graded stakes winner for the year. Despite the victory, the chestnut stallion was unable to crack the top five on the AGS leading sire list. One stallion that did make a big move, however, was Medaglia d'Oro, who took over the top spot from Empire Maker with five graded stakes winners/six graded stakes wins. Like Kitten's Joy, Medaglia d'Oro is a son of El Prado. His latest winner was Funny Proposition, who scored a decisive victory over champion Royal Delta in the G2 Fleur de Lis.
Victories by Verrazano and Notacatbutallama over the weekend helped trainer Todd Pletcher strengthen his grip on the lead on the AGS trainers list. Verrazano bounced back off his disappointing Kentucky Derby run with a dominating victory in the G3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, setting him up nicely for a run in the G1 Haskell Invitational later this summer. After a brief detour on the Triple Crown trail earlier this spring, Repole Stable's Notacatbutallama showed his affinity for the turf with determined neck victory in the G3 Hill Prince Stakes.