Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez piloted Stephanie’s Kitten to a late-charging win in the Grade II Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Sunday afternoon.
The daughter of Kitten’s Joy hugged the rail most of the way around the turf course before bursting clear in the final eighth covering the nine furlongs in a time of 1:48.51.
“I was on the rail the whole way. That’s where I broke, and we planned to stay there to save the best ground we could, and I stayed there till the three-sixteenths pole and worked my way out till I finally got out at the eighth pole. When I asked, she responded right away. It was a great effort by her and an incredible last eighth. I know she has it in her, and as soon as I pulled her out and hit her with the whip she responded right away, so I was very impressed at the way she did it.”
The win puts Stephanie’s Kitten on a path that will likely include the Breeders’ Cup come November.
“The first turn cost him more than anything, I think,” said winning trainer Wayne Catalano. “She got slammed in the corner, got her back too far. She still was going to win; she just got a rough trip down by the eighth pole. I think [we’ll go] to the Queen Elizabeth II [Grade 1, 1 1/8 miles on October 13 at Keeneland] and the Breeders’ Cup. I’ll talk to Mr. [Ken] Ramsey. We mapped out a little plan; hopefully it all works out.”
The rest of the field was rounded out by Centre Court, Somali Lemonade, Medolina, Better Lucky and Disposablepleasure.
In Sunday’s opener on a day where the dirt was fast and the turf was firm, Kimono started the day with a win going seven furlongs in 1:24.07 and paid $2.40. Kansas came in second and Liberty Girl took third.
Race two hit the turf at 8 ½ furlongs and Chasing Piper ($22.20) won at a price in 1:42.61. Fast and Strong took second with Clever Spirit behind her.
Backdown won Race 3 going six furlongs on the dirt in 1:09.87. He paid $4.50. Side Part Ralph came in second with Trickey Guy in third.
Race four went to Cosmic Enter ($7.50) with Ramon Dominguez aboard. They covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.56. Arsenal and Wet One followed.
Broken Spell won the fifth race going 1 1/16 miles on the turf in a time of 1:42.28. She paid $15.80 to her backers. Always Kitten and J’espirit came in second and third.
Key to Power won the sixth race going 1 1/16th miles on the inner turf and paying $8.30 for the win. Our Entourage and Gaelico followed in that order.
Ramon Dominguez won his second race of the day with Wish to Opine in a 5 ½ furlong sprint on the turf in 1:02.81. Wish to Opine paid $4.50 with Phantasticus and Pegasus Diamond following.
Molly Morgon won the ninth race, seven furlongs on the dirt, in a time of 1:23.16 and paid $8.50. Fiftyfour Forever and Royal Sighting were second and third.
And Sunday’s finale was won by Read the Research in a 7-furlong sprint on the dirt in 1:23.39. She paid $6.10 for the win with Rodinia and Tahoe Tigress rounding out the trifecta.
Brendan O'Meara is the Author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year"
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy NYRA / Adam Coglianese
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