08/17/2013 5:21PM

Arlington Park: Admiral Kitten breaks through in Secretariat

Four Footed Fotos
Admiral Kitten and Rosie Napravnik go past Stormy Len en route to a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The Kittens just keep on coming.

Minutes after Big Blue Kitten won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga, Admiral Kitten captured the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. Ken Ramsey, who bred both horses and owns them with his wife, Sarah, said he wanted to show off his stallion Kitten’s Joy – the source of all those Kitten names – this weekend.

Rapid-fire Grade1 victories should do the trick.

Kitten’s Joy himself won the Secretariat Stakes in 2004, and while Admiral Kitten does not have the raw talent of his sire, he has proven to be a capable, consistent 3-year-old grass horse. Second four times in a row, the last three times in graded stakes and the last two at Arlington, Admiral Kitten rallied to a going-away victory in the $500,000 Secretariat despite being held up well behind a moderate early tempo. His trip nevertheless turned out flawless and made Rosie Napravnik, riding Admiral Kitten for the first time, the first female rider to win the Secretariat.

Trained by Mike Maker, Admiral Kitten debuted last fall in a $50,000 maiden claimer, but that is the only time he has raced for a claiming tag. He won the El Joven at Retama as a 2-year-old, but came into Saturday’s race winless in five starts since, his fast-closing second by a head here in the Arlington Classic a particularly tough loss.

“After four second-place finishes, we were due for a good trip one of these times,” said Maker. “He had lost ground to the winners in those races, and Rosie saved ground on both turns here.”

Surprisingly, the Secretariat proved a much easier target for Admiral Kitten, who had only three of 12 rivals beaten as the field turned down the backstretch. Impossible longshot Golden Jason had been sent to the lead from the rail, and Edgar Prado on second choice Rydilluc chose to let him go and sit second as Golden Jason set splits of 24.96 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 49.91 for the first half. Stormy Len, third in the American Derby, stalked the early pace from third, and it was he who made the first move, coming three wide to engage Golden Jason and Rydilluc on the far turn.

Neither pacesetter could counter the move, and Stormy Len briefly went clear by several lengths, but Napravnik had maneuvered Admiral Kitten into striking position without losing too much ground or finding traffic, and Admiral Kitten steadily wore down Stormy Len, catching him the final furlong and going on to a 1 1/4-length victory. Jack Milton, the favorite, had first run on the winner, but could not quicken sufficiently and finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Stormy Len.

Admiral Kitten paid $12.40 to win, and was timed in 2:02.17 for 1 1/4 miles on firm going – the fastest Secretariat since 2008.