12/30/2015 4:56PM

Charming Kitten trips out


He received a beautiful trip and ride from John Velazquez, but the consistent CHARMING KITTEN also showed great courage to repel a game KAIGUN in last Saturday's Grade 3 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

The W. L. McKnight unfolded at a moderate pace as longshot Pennsylvania-bred stakes-winner BEYOND SMART and off-form Grade 2 hero WAR DANCER danced through splits of 24.68 and 49.69. Meanwhile, Charming Kitten tracked the two leaders while on the outside of 20 to 1 chance ROCCIA D'ORO.

Beyond Smart called it an afternoon following six furlongs and War Dancer inherited the lead. Velazquez didn't want that one to get brave and placed Charming Kitten right off the new leader's flank. Charming Kitten overhauled War Dancer on the final bend, braced for Kaigun's late run and wouldn't let that one pass. Charming Kitten completed the 1 1/2 miles over firm turf in 2:27.76, a time good enough for a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He tries all the time," Velazquez told track publicity following race. "The last couple races he tried very hard and today he put it all together. It was another nice effort. I wanted to get him in nice position where he was comfortable. After that he was running well."

The McKnight featured DA BIG HOSS. Claimed for $50,000 by trainer Mike Maker in June, Da Big Hoss then reeled off three consecutive victories before finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

While Charming Kitten received a stress-free trip, Da Big Hoss was hung out to dry. He never got closer than three paths off the rail at any juncture, but still was punching on turning for home. Understandably, he tired in the final eighth of a mile and finished third. While I don't like how Da Big Hoss flashed his tail under pressure, he certainly deserves another chance against similar competition considering his wide trip.

Da Big Hoss' woes were compounded by Joe Bravo's shrewd riding tactics aboard Kaigun. It seemed that whenever Da Big Hoss attempted to get position, Bravo hustled Kaigun inside Da Big Hoss to force him to cover more ground. Kaigun appeared in deep water when hard-ridden with five-sixteenths of a mile to travel, but Bravo never panicked. He stayed inside the favorite, split Da Big Hoss and Charming Kitten at the three-sixteenths pole and gave his mount every chance to win.

A soon-to-be 6-year-old son of Kitten's Joy out of Iteration (by Wild Again), Charming Kitten is a full brother to synthetic stakes-winning router Queen'splatekitten. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred has been banking checks since day one. A maiden winner on debut at two at Saratoga, Charming Kitten then finished third in the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes. He completed his juvenile campaign with a runner-up performance in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream.

At three, Charming Kitten grabbed the $100,000 Kitten's Joy Stakes at Gulfstream and placed in four graded races including the Grade 1 Blue Grass over Keeneland's polytrack. A 33 to 1 shot in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Charming Kitten finished ninth in his dirt debut.

Last year, Charming Kitten showed his stamina with a 94-Beyer win in the two-mile, $200,000 Belmont Gold Cup. He received a late start to his 2015 season, but finished second in the restricted Lure Stakes at Saratoga in August and the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland in October.

Charming Kitten usually runs Beyers in the mid-90 range, but the return to one of his favorite turf courses certainly perked him up. It's possible that he's reaching peak maturity and deserves to be followed in similar Grade 2 or Grade 3 races at 10 furlongs or greater.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 12/22/15 - 12/28/15:

1. GREEN GRATTO - 107 - Gravesend Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 26Dec15-8AQU
2. CHARMING KITTEN - 102 - W. L. McKnight Handicap (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec15-9GP
2. RUNHAPPY - 102 - Malibu Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 26Dec15-8SA
4. OM - 100 - Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 26Dec15-6SA
5. GOLDY ESPONY (FR) - 97 - La Prevoyante Handicap (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec15-11GP
6. ALWAYS SUNSHINE - 96 - Dave's Friend Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 26Dec15-4LRL
6. GREENGRASSOFYOMING - 96 - OC 62k/N2X - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 26Dec15-10GP
6. WHAT A VIEW - 96 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 26Dec15-9SA
9. SASSICAIA - 95 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 26Dec15-4AQU
10. TOOWINDYTOHAULROX - 93 - Daytona Stakes (G3) - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 26Dec15-4SA
11. GENDER AGENDA (GB) - 92 - Robert J. Frankel Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 27Dec15-8SA
11. GUNS LOADED - 92 - Clm 40000(40-35 -  About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 27Dec15-5SA
11. MONEY FLOWS - 92 - OC 40k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - OC 40k/N2X -N
14. EAGLE SCREAMS - 91 - OC 62k/N2X - 1 1/16 Miles (Tapeta) - 26Dec15-4GG
15. BELVOIR BAY - 90 - Blue Norther Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - 27Dec15-2SA
15. BEST BEHAVIOR - 90 - Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) - 6 Furlongs - 26Dec15-4GP
15. JEWEL OF A CAT - 90 - Windley Key Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 27Dec15-3GP
15. JSLOOKOVRURSHOULDA - 90 - OC10k/SAL5k - 5 1/2 Furlongs - 27Dec15-5FG
19. BIRDATTHEWIRE - 89 - La Brea STakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 26Dec15-7SA
19. DANZING CANDY - 89 - Md Sp Wt 57k - 7 Furlongs - 26Dec15-5SA
19. MODEL CITIZEN - 89 - Alw 5000s - 7 Furlongs - 22Dec15-10PRX
19. NOTEWORTHY PEACH - 89 - Jennings Handicap - 1 Mile - 26Dec15-8LRL
23. NISHARORA (IRE) - 88 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 27Dec15-9GP
24. DRAXHALL WOODS - 87 - Clm 25000 - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - 27Dec15-6AQU
25. OMAR - 86 - OC 20k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - 23Dec15-4TUP
25. TIGER MOTH - 86 - Alw 36200N1X - 1 Mile - 23Dec15-9GP
25. WINGS LOCKED UP - - 86 - Clm c-(30-25)B - 6 Furlongs - 27Dec15-7FG

*GREEN GRATTO's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*WINGS LOCKED UP was claimed for $30,000 by trainer Keith Bourgeois from Tim Glyshaw.


noticed this in the conditions for Turfway Park's 6th y'day, wondered if I was the only one to catch it - and if it's something they sell for $20...?
6 FURLONGS. ( 1.15 1) CLAIMING . Purse $7,100 FOR THREE YEAR OLDS AND UPWARD WHICH HAVE NOT WON TWO RACES SINCE TIA MURPHY'S BIRTHDAY, 2014. Three Year Olds, 123 lbs.; Older, 124 lbs. Non-winners Of A Race Since November 27 Allowed 3 lbs. Claiming Price $5,000 (Races Where Entered For $4,000 Or LessNot Considered In Eligibility).

Good catch!  It appears to be a rib on a popular track employee.

Here's a piece from 2007:



Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

I'll be with Mike Beer for live coverage of racing at Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Santa Anita beginning at 3pm ET at live.drf.com.


Here's a note from SR Vegas concerning an NHC Tournament blog get-together in Las Vegas:

To Everyone:
The 2016 FORMBLOGERS CONVENTION  February 19 - 21 at Gulfstream Park is a wonderful weekend and our Laura does a fantastic job in coordinating all the activities there. Please attend if you can !

As an alternative, I’d also like you to think about The Formblog–mini–West-Coast get-together at The NHC Tournament in Las Vegas.

Dates: January  28-30

If you are coming to town, please raise your hand. I'll be putting together a casual cocktail/dinner meet and greet for our Formblog friends on Jan 27th and a post tournament brunch on  Jan 31 (for those who have later flights that day). Details TBD.

Whether you are a qualifier, friends or family coming to town to root them on, or enjoying your time in Las Vegas, let me know.

Anyone interested ? Please contact me at:



Here's a message from Laura regarding our 2016 FormBlog Convention at Gulfstream Park:

Make plans to attend the 2016 FORMBLOGERS CONVENTION! February 19 - 21 at Gulfstream Park. Courtesy of our generous benefactor, Mike Nyman, we once again have a private suite - temperamental wagering machine included.
Room discounts at the Hampton Inn across the street from the track are available. With the discount, the rooms run about $200/night including taxes and free breakfast buffet. (The Romance Package is extra and hotel management is very strict about that).
We always have a fun time - even when the track gets washed away! Besides the pleasure of each other's company - and that of our fearless leader, Dan Who, there will be Breeders' Cup swag, and more! Previous years, courtesy of SR Vegas, we included Derby Futures Tickets given in raffles throughout the weekend (everyone winds up with one!), and other fun stuff.
I'll have more info available in the next few weeks. I offer FREE! transportation to/from the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
If you have any questions, please contact me at: lross@imtbreds.com


Congrats to Gerry V. for winning last week's HandiGambling contest.

We'll go with Saturday's San Gabriel from Santa Anita for this week's exercise.


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!