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Updated on 11/05/2011 12:00AM
Breeders' Cup: Stephanie's Kitten up late in Juvenile Fillies Turf
By Mike Welsch
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Wayne Catalano completed a unique Breeders' Cup triple when Stephanie's Kitten ran down pacesetter Stopshoppingmaria to register a three-quarter-length victory in Friday's $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Stopshoppingmaria's uncoupled stablemate, Sweet Cat, finished third.
Stephanie's Kitten was Catalano's third Breeders' Cup victory with a 2-year-old filly. He also won the 2006 Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs with Dreaming of Anna and the 2009 Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita with She Be Wild, giving him Breeders' Cup wins on dirt, a synthetic surface, and now turf.
Stephanie's Kitten is 2-year-old homebred filly owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and sired by the couple's top turf sire, Kitten's Joy. She was named for the Ramsey's granddaughter Stephanie.
Stephanie's Kitten was guided to victory in the Juvenile Fillies Turf by John Velazquez, who had also ridden the runner-up and third-place finishers, Stopshoppingmaria and Sweet Cat, for trainer Todd Pletcher in their previous starts. Stephanie's Kitten won the Grade 1 Alcibides over the Polytrack at Keeneland with Velazquez aboard four weeks ago.
As expected, Stopshoppingmaria set the early pace in the one-mile Juvenile Fillies Turf which was decided over a grass course labeled good. Stephanie's Kitten rated within easy striking position less than three lengths off the lead, saved ground into the stretch, then eased off the inside to run down the leader in the closing strides. Stopshoppingmaria drew well clear and appeared on her way to victory leaving the eighth pole but could not hold off the winner in the closing strides.
Sweet Cat stalked her stablemate's pace from the outset and held on gamely to the end, finishing another 1 1/4 lengths further back in third. Somali Lemonade was forced to drop near the rear of the pack after breaking from post 14 and finished sixth without menacing the leaders, while French invader Elusive Kate was never a factor, checking home tenth as the 5-2 favorite.
Stephanie's Kitten completed the distance in 1:38.90 and paid $14.20.
"She ran her heart out," said Catalano. "John had her in a great spot down the backstretch, sat in the pocket, and I was just looking for the big white shadow roll as they came down the stretch. I was just happy John chose our horse over the other two or three opportunities that he had. I felt good about that."
Catalano said there was never any real thought to switching Stephanie's Kitten over to dirt and running her in the Juvenile Fillies rather than the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
"It only crossed my mind for a second, and then I thought it was Kitten's Joy and it was grass," said Catalano. "This is what she's supposed to do."
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