Updated on 09/17/2011 10:22PM

BC Turf: Kitten's Joy 'not doing right'

Kitten's Joy, with Edgar Prado, will undergo tests soon to help define his physical condition.

Kitten's Joy, the champion turf male of 2004, is being sent to Kentucky this weekend to undergo physical tests, trainer Dale Romans said Wednesday, and there is some concern the horse may not start in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.

Romans declined to say what might be wrong with the 4-year-old Kitten's Joy, but the trainer said he has been concerned about the colt's condition since last weekend.

"We're bringing Kitten's Joy back to the farm to evaluate him," Romans said. "He's flying in Sunday. He's just not doing right and I want to check him out."

Asked exactly what the horse's status was for the BC Turf, Romans said, "I don't want to say anything until I look at him closer."

A winner of 9 of 14 starts and $2,075,791, Kitten's Joy had his most recent published workout on Sept. 12 at Belmont Park, going five furlongs on turf.

Throughout the year, Kitten's Joy has been considered a top American-based contender for the BC Turf, which is run over 1 1/2 miles. Owned and bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Kitten's Joy has made two starts this year, winning the Firecracker BC Handicap at Churchill Downs in July and finishing second in the Arlington Million last month behind Powerscourt, a BC Turf hopeful.

Kitten's Joy was considered possible for the $750,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 1 before the decision was made to send him to Kentucky for evaluation.

The absence of Kitten's Joy from the BC Turf would enhance the status of defending champion Better Talk Now as a top American-based candidate.

Better Talk Now is a contender who can challenge the European-based runners. In the last 10 runnings of the BC Turf, European-based horses have won six times, although the Irish import High Chaparral finished in a dead heat with the California-based Johar in the 2003 running at Santa Anita.

This year, the Europeans are expected to bring a strong raiding party, a group that will be solidified following the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Oct. 2. The top contenders for the BC Turf from Europe may include Powerscourt, the winner of the Arlington Million; Motivator, the winner of the Epsom Derby; Hurricane Run, who won the Irish Derby; and possibly Group 1 winners Bago and Scorpion.

The list of European-based contenders was reduced by two on Tuesday. Imperial Stride and Proclamation, both stakes winners this year, were purchased privately by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing and will be sent to Dubai for 2006 campaigns.

Compared with the Europeans, Better Talk Now at least holds a "home course" advantage.

Trained in Maryland by H. Graham Motion, Better Talk Now has won three stakes this year, including two at the Grade 1 level at 1 3/8 miles on turf - the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park in July and the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 10.

"I think he's a better horse this year," Motion said.

Motion said that Better Talk Now will make his next start in the BC Turf. Last year, Better Talk Now was fourth in the Man o' War in early September in his final start before an upset victory at 27-1 in the BC Turf at Lone Star Park.

"He will have a light schedule for the next three weeks, which is one of the beauties of having a prep so far out," Motion said Wednesday. "Right now, he's jogging and trail riding. To be honest, that's his routine after he runs. I might prolong it an extra week before he goes back to his routine daily gallop.

"We have access to a lot of fields and trails that we can use. It's something that I do with my routine. He will have either two or three works before the Breeders' Cup, depending on how he's doing. He wouldn't breeze until the second week of October."

The lone race this weekend with possible BC Turf implications is Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf over 1 1/2 miles at Kentucky Downs. Pellegrino, the winner of the 2004 Hollywood Turf Cup, and Rochester, a 9-year-old millionaire, are among the eight horses entered.

Turf contenders
3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf). Purse: $2 million.

1ShakespeareW. Mott10-1
Light on experience, long on talent; loved his kick in Bel Breeders' Cup
2PowerscourtA. O'Brien4-1
Romped in Arl. Million; could have won this last year with a good ride
3OratorioA. O'Brien8-1
Nailed Motivator in Group 1's in his last two; trainer is loaded for this
4MotivatorM. Bell5-1
English Derby winner will appreciate stretching back out to 1 1/2 miles
5Hurricane RunA. Fabre6-1
Irish Derby winner is the likely favorite for Arc off his Prix Niel victory
6AzamourJ. Oxx6-1
Fifth behind Oratorio in Irish Champion; won two Group 1's before that
7Kitten's JoyD. Romans6-1
It's not a shock that his physical condition is an issue; status uncertain
8ScorpionA. O'Brien10-1
Close second in Irish Derby, and has since won two Group 1 events
9Better Talk NowH. G. Motion10-1
Won the Man o' War and the U. N., but was outkicked in the Arl. Million
10ElectrocutionistV. Valiani15-1
Juddmonte Int'l winner is owned by a New Yorker, so he may come
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.