06/07/2013 12:02PM

Churchill Downs: High Dollar Kitten tries to retain form for new trainer in turf feature


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A certain dilemma presents itself when a trainer contemplates claiming a horse away from Mike Maker, whose dominance on the Kentucky circuit has hit unprecedented heights in the last couple of months.

“You’re pretty sure you’re not going to move one up on him,” said Bill Denzik, who went against that grain when he recently claimed a 3-year-old colt named High Dollar Kitten for the full-retail price of $50,000 from Maker and owner-breeder Ken Ramsey.

High Dollar Kitten closed stoutly to finish a just-miss second and earn an 83 Beyer Speed Figure – easily a career high – in the May 17 turf route from which Denzik claimed him. On Sunday, when racing under new silks for the first time, High Dollar Kitten will be looking to avert a bounce while also facing two Maker runners as part of an intriguing field in the eighth-race feature, a $52,000 first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

High Dollar Kitten, by Kitten’s Joy, is now owned by the Fast and Sure Thoroughbreds of Dallas businessman Randy Cimorelli.

“Randy wanted him because he really likes the Kitten’s Joys,” said Denzik, who is based at the HighPointe training center near LaGrange, Ky.

“I thought maybe he wasn’t quite worth the $50,000, but after that big race, maybe he is. Claiming from Mike, there’s always a concern. Actually,” he added with a laugh, “I’d like to just keep this one where he is. I know it’s unlikely we’ll move him up much.”

High Dollar Kitten, with Brian Hernandez Jr. riding from post 4, will face nine other 3-year-olds in the lone allowance on a 10-race Sunday card. First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.

The Maker runners are among the chief opposition, those being Kamchatka (post 1, Ricardo Santana Jr.) and Kiss of Thunder (post 5, Alan Garcia). That pair is not coupled for wagering purposes.

Maker, a 44-year-old former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, set an all-time Keeneland record in April by winning 25 races at the spring meet. Into Friday action, he also led the current Churchill standings with 21 winners.

Other possibilities in a well-matched lineup include River Boss, Cone of Light, Column, El Jefe Grande, and Cairo Six.

After Sunday, Churchill goes dark for three days until action resumes Thursday for another four-day race week.