Stephanie's Kitten goes out with a bang in Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Stephanie's Kitten has now won two of her three Breeders' Cup appearances. Victorious in the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs, she was best of the rest behind front-running stablemate Dayatthespa in last year's Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita. The six-year-old veteran boosted her bankroll to $4,292,904 from her 25-11-4-4 line.
Although coming off a repeat win in the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park, Stephanie's Kitten went off at (in hindsight) a very generous price at 7-1. She was patiently handled by Irad Ortiz Jr., who anchored her at the tail early. But she didn't drop too far back or get herself in a disadvantageous position, as she had done earlier this season.
Up front, Secret Gesture carved out splits of :23.95, :49.26 and 1:13.94 on a course labeled good. Sharla Rae and Photo Call were her nearest attendants early, with Sentiero Italia nearby on the inside. Miss France was rank on the outside, while Legatissimo, who stumbled at the start, was covered up on the rail.
Turning into the stretch, Photo Call made a valiant bid for glory and headed the weakening Secret Gesture. Legatissimo peeled out in preparation for her challenge, but appeared to spin her wheels on the surface. Stephanie's Kitten, in contrast, was getting good traction toward the inside, powered on between Photo Call and Sentiero Italia, and pulled clear. Legatissimo bravely kept on to no avail, crossing the wire 1 1/4 lengths adrift in second. There was a gap of 2 1/4 lengths back to late-running Queen's Jewel, who got her neck in front of Sentiero Italia for third.
Stephanie's Kitten negotiated 1 3/16 miles in 1:56.02 and rewarded her loyalists with a $17.60 win mutuel. Over her terrific career that has spanned five seasons, the Kentucky-bred bay has also garnered the 2011 Alcibiades, 2012 Lake Placid (G2) and Edgewood, 2013 Just a Game (G1) and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), and 2015 Hillsborough (G3) in addition to her two Flower Bowls and Breeders' Cups.
One year ago this weekend, Stephanie's Kitten toured that same Fasig-Tipton sales ring, and attracted a top bid of $3,950,000. But that was just shy of the Ramseys' reserve on her, and she returned to Brown's barn for another year at the wars.
On Sunday, the Ramseys may well part with their homebred star at Fasig-Tipton. Or will they?
All of the postrace quotes are available here.
Photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography.