06/18/2013 12:51PM

Belmont Park: Back class makes Spooky Kitten dangerous in turf sprint

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Michael Burns
Two years ago, Spooky Kitten was good enough to finish second in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Spooky Kitten debuted and won for a $15,000 claiming tag on Polytrack at Turfway Park, ran second in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, and was the favorite against Marketing Mix in a $250,000 Canadian-bred stakes going 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Of course, that was two years ago. Spooky Kitten’s prowess lay somewhere in the middle, and she looks to be a nice fit in a $55,000 starter optional-claiming race, one of several interesting betting races on Thursday’s nine-race card at Belmont Park.

In her 11-race career, Spooky Kitten has raced at eight distances over two surfaces. Thursday, she will attempt seven furlongs on Belmont’s Widener turf for the first time. In her most recent start, Spooky Kitten finished second, beaten less than a length, going six furlongs in a first-level allowance over Belmont’s inner turf course. She was getting a dream trip behind dueling leaders, but had to wait for running room that may have come too late.

“She got into a little bit of trouble when she couldn’t get through,” trainer Bruce Levine said. “She split horses and came running. She’s doing really good. I breezed her a few times since then. I almost wish it was six not seven, but I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

There is speed on the inside and outside, with Alpha J on the rail and Spun Silky in post.

There are others in the field who would benefit from a contested pace. House On Toilsome, with a second and two thirds in three similar races to this on turf, cuts back to seven furlongs for trainer Pat Reynolds, who has had a fine meet with a record of 5-4-3 from 12 starters. House On Toilsome is the only one in this field being offered for the $50,000 claiming tag.

Strategic Missile and Rain Forest are others to consider as well. Strategic Missile is only 3 for 27, but her last win came against New York-breds going seven furlongs here a year ago at juicy 39-1.

Rain Forest makes her 4-year-old debut for Christophe Clement. Rain Forest won her 3-year-old finale going seven furlongs on the turf here last September.

Original Kitten cuts back to a sprint after finishing fourth in the same race House On Toilsome comes out of on May 17.

◗ The richest race on the card is the eighth, a $64,000, second-level optional $25,000 claimer for New York-bred males going a mile on the dirt. Copper Forest and Most Happy Fella, both in from the $25,000 claiming tag, head the field. Copper Forest dead-heated for the win at this level May 31. Most Happy Fella won for $20,000 claiming May 22 and was taken by Joe Imperio. Most Happy Fella has been claimed in six of his last seven starts.