Fast Boat Could Be Too Quick for Kitten's Joy Rivals

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 4th, 2018

Few Thoroughbred stallions have achieved as much success in recent years as Kitten’s Joy, and you won’t find a much bigger fan of Kitten’s Joy than me.

That’s one reason why I like to give the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park a close look each year, though there’s another reason as well—it usually draws a very competitive field, and the 2018 renewal is no exception.

The 7 ½-furlong turf race for three-year-olds has attracted eight starters this year, and if the old adage “bet class on the grass” holds true, then #1 Flameaway should win. Trained by Mark Casse, the promising son of Scat Daddy was cut out to be a turf star from the start, but his first two attempts to race over the surface were foiled by foul weather—the races wound up being run on dirt.

Despite these obstacles, Flameaway won three of his first four starts over a variety of track conditions (fast, muddy, sloppy, and synthetic), including the Bourbon Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, before making his much-anticipated turf debut in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I). Sent off as a longshot at 23-1, Flameaway raced close to the pace and faded slightly in the final furlong to finish eighth, beaten just 3 ¼ lengths. That effort against top competition stamps Flameaway as the horse to beat in the Kitten’s Joy, especially since he has secured a favorable post draw and has enough early speed to work out a good trip.
Yet despite Flameaway’s obvious merits, I’m going to side with #5 Fast Boat. The lightly-raced son of City Zip finished third in his debut at Belmont behind the highly-regarded Analyze It, then shipped to Gulfstream to contest a 7 ½-furlong maiden race on December 8th. After settling in fourth place early on, a couple lengths behind the leaders, Fast Boat shifted to the outside around the far turn and blew past the leader with a breathtaking turn-of-foot, drawing away powerfully under a light hand ride to win by 4 ¾ lengths with a 92 BRIS speed figure, substantially higher than Flameaway’s career-best number of 87.
Trained by Christophe Clement, who wins at a 22% rate with horses coming off a maiden victory, Fast Boat appears to have a ton of potential and is already proven over this course and distance. For good measure, he’ll also be carrying four pounds less than Flameaway.

I won’t try to get too creative in this race. Instead, I’ll play a bold, cold exacta, Fast Boat over Flameaway, while also betting Fast Boat to win at 5-2 or higher.

$10 to win on #5 Fast Boat $10 exacta: 5 with 1

Good luck!