Even as a multiple Grade 1 winner and the champion grass horse of 2004 who earned more than $2 million in his three-year racing career, Kitten's Joy is probably best known for the success of his second career.
Bred and campaigned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Kitten's Joy was North America's leading sire by progeny earnings in 2013 and ranked third this year. Over the past four years, his offspring have topped $36 million in earnings, landing him in the top 10 three times. He has been even more dominant with grass horses, ranking as the leading turf sire in 2013 and 2014.
Kitten's Joy will be well-represented again on Saturday at Gulfstream Park with leading contenders in each of two 7 ½-furlong turf stakes, the $100,000 Dania Beach (G3) for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Ginger Brew for 3-year-old fillies.
Trainer Wesley Ward will send out Crown the Kitten and Wayward Kitten in the Dania Beach, the graded stakes debut for both Ramsey homebreds. Crown the Kitten raced four times in 2014 with two straight wins, a maiden victory on September 24 at Kentucky Downs and a 5 ¾-length score in the one-mile El Joven Stakes on October 11 at Retama Park.
“He's doing really good. He's training well up at Palm Meadows,” Ward said of Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. “When you jump into these stakes races here at these big tracks, you can kind of see where you're at. He's earned a shot in here.”
Crown the Kitten was second in his debut on June 6 at Belmont Park on the eve of the Belmont Stakes, then was sent to England where he was 10th of 14 in the Chesham Stakes at Ascot prior to his maiden triumph.
“This is one of the horses that Mr. Ramsey picked out to go to Royal Ascot,” Ward said. “I felt good about sending him over there. He's a nice colt, and he vindicated that loss by coming back with two wins. We're hopeful.”
Wayward Kitten will be making his fourth career start in the Dania Beach. Second in his July 26 debut at Arlington Park, he graduated in his next start then was beaten a neck in his first try against winners on October 26, both at Churchill Downs.
Also part of Ward's string at Palm Meadows, Wayward Kitten will race as a gelding for the first time in the Dania Beach.
“He may be a little more talented,” Ward said. “He's just recently gelded, so that should help him. Training both horses, I just think that Wayward Kitten may be a touch better. We took our time getting him ready. He wants to go further.”
Crown the Kitten drew outside post 10 under Joel Rosario, while Rafael Hernandez will ride Wayward Kitten from post five.
An impressive debut winner on December 6 at Gulfstream Park, Smokem Kitten is another Ramsey-owned son of Kitten's Joy taking aim at the Dania Beach. Despite breaking from post 14 going 1 1/16 miles, he rolled to a front-running 5 ½-length victory in his unveiling.
“It was a little tough spot coming out of the 14 hole, but we knew he was a horse with some quality so it wasn't totally a surprise,” trainer Mike Maker said. “He found himself on the lead, but I think it was more just how the race played out.”
Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, recently back from time off following a spill at Gulfstream, gets the return call.
Croninthebarbarian and Night Prowler, who ran 2-3 in a blanket finish of the Pulpit Stakes on November 29 at Gulfstream Park West, separated by a head, return in the Dania Beach.
Trained by Garry Simms, Croninthebarbarian captured the Kentucky Downs Juvenile on September 6 and was sixth in the Bourbon (G3) four weeks later. Night Prowler, from the Chad Brown barn, made his first two starts at Belmont Park in the fall, capturing a seven-furlong maiden race on October 17 prior to the Pulpit.
Also in the Dania Beach are A Lot, fourth in the Awad Stakes for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott on October 26; Chicago-area imports Mostly Mozart, a maiden winner on September 20, and Stormy Wayllen, who beat winners in his most recent start September 28, both at Arlington Park; Kutuzov and Valuetempo.
Maker and Ramsey may have the horse to beat in the Ginger Brew with undefeated Right On Kitten. Out of the E Dubai mare Right On It, the bay filly has won both her races, taking a 7 ½-furlong maiden event on September 9 at Indiana Downs by 3 ¼ lengths before a victory in the one-mile La Senorita on October 11 at Retama Park.
“She's had some time just because we were a bit log jammed with 2-year-old fillies, so now it's her turn. She's doing well,” Maker said. “She's done it the right way in both her starts, so we might as well see where we are with her.”
Three-time defending Championship Meet riding champion Javier Castellano will be aboard for the first time in the Ginger Brew.
Another undefeated horse in the Ginger Brew is RAP Racing and Marc Haisfield's Cardinal Cove. Trained by Kathy O'Connell, the Florida-bred daughter of Leroidesanimaux broke her maiden on October 3 at Gulfstream Park West then captured an optional claiming allowance by a neck on December 6 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Rounding out the Ginger Brew field are Angel Falls, fourth by a length in the Our Dear Peggy Stakes on October 4 at Gulfstream Park; Devine Aida, a winner of her last two starts; Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies winner Nicky's Brown Miss; Sunday Sonnet, runner-up in the P.G. Johnson this summer at Saratoga Race Course for owners Lori and George Hall; maiden winners Jersey Jules, Image of Rachel and Titanium Jo, and Mom'z Laugh.
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