Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Camelot Kitten was just able to get up over Airoforce in Friday's Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes. The sophomore son of Kitten's Joy got his nose in front at the wire under a strong ride from Irad Ortiz, covering 1 1/16 miles over Saratoga's firm turf in 1:41.76 for trainer Chad Brown.
“This horse has always shown a lot of talent but he just wasn't finishing off his races the way he should,” said Brown. “Since we put the blinkers on, it's his fourth great race in a row. It was the final piece of the puzzle for this particular horse.”
Giant Run was the quickest out of the gate from the inside post, jumping out to a one-length lead over Airoforce to cover the first quarter mile in a galloping :25.08. Behind Airoforce, Strike Midnight was tucked in along the inside rail with Camelot Kitten tracking from fourth on the outside. They remained largely unchanged through a half-mile in :49.17, but Airoforce moved up to within three-quarters of a length of Giant Run approaching the far turn. Camelot Kitten also began to make his move mid-way through the turn while three-wide, and the trio turned for home together.
In tight quarters between horses, Airoforce held a brief advantage of a head before Camelot Kitten fought back to keep his position. Giant Run did not give way until mid-stretch, and then it was just Airoforce and Camelot Kitten stride-for-stride. In the final 100 yards, Ortiz was able to get just a bit more out of Camelot Kitten, who thrust his nose in front to hit the wire first. Airoforce had to settle for a very game second, while Strike Midnight kept on to be third.
“He's the kind of horse that, after watching his replays, you can tell he has gotten much better over time,” Ortiz said. “He waits a little bit on horses so we couldn't make the lead too early. I waited and eased him into the race little by little. The last part I hit a few times coming into the turn and he was ready. He was jumping. I think he might be better at this distance [1 1/16 miles] but he's a nice horse; he can definitely still go a mile and eighth and a mile and a quarter.”
Bred in Kentucky, Camelot Kitten is out of a winning daughter of Forestry. The Hall of Fame marks his third graded stakes victory and fourth lifetime win, bringing his career earnings to over $600,000 from eight starts.
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