04/29/2004 11:00PM

Crown Royal: Kitten's Joy dominates


Kitten's Joy made a statement Friday that he just may be the best 3-year-old turf horse in North America with a dominant 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Crown Royal American turf.

It was the fifth victory in as many starts on turf for Kitten's Joy, and his third stakes win of the year. Kitten's Joy, a son of El Prado, was making his first start since Feb. 21, but the layoff was clearly no problem.

Kitten's Joy was squeezed at the break, and raced between four and five wide virtually the entire trip. But, when Jerry Bailey asked him for run turning for home, Kitten's Joy responded and drew off easily. Prince Arch rallied for second, a half-length ahead of the pace-setting Capo.

Kitten's Joy covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.31 over a good course and returned $4.20 as the favorite.

"I thought it was best race yet," said Dale Romans, who trains Kitten's Joy for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey. "I thought he had a lot of things go against him; he had a rough break, he was running into a slow pace. Jerry said he felt like he had enough horse that he could swing him wide and get out of all the trouble. He was awesome."

Bailey, who began the day learning that his Kentucky Derby mount Wimbledon was scratched due to injury, wanted to keep Kitten's Joy wide because he felt that was the better part of a drying-out turf course.

"We had planned by the three-eighths pole or middle of the turn to be on the outside," Bailey said. "After being squeezed at the start, I ended up wide, so I went ahead and left him there. I figured he was the best horse so I just let him stay there."

Romans said that Kitten's Joy could run next in the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in England on June 15.