04/28/2004 12:00AM

Crown Royal: Kitten's Joy returns


With the more prestigious races for 3-year-old turf horses scheduled for the summer, the connections of Kitten's Joy figured earlier was better than later to give the horse a freshening.

That break comes to an end when Kitten's Joy heads a nine-horse field entered in the Grade 3, $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf at 1 1/16 miles. Kitten's Joy, who is 4 for 4 on turf, including two graded stakes wins, will be making his first start in 69 days. The only race Kitten's Joy missed was the Transylvania at Keeneland on April 2.

"We decided to space his races out," trainer Dale Romans said. "It's going to be a tough campaign after this race and we didn't want to put his races on top of each other."

From July 3 through Aug. 14, Arlington Park hosts a three-race series for turf horses, culminating with the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 14.

Romans said Kitten's Joy is "training great" and he is not concerned with cutting back from nine furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

"He's got a nice turn of foot when you call on him," Romans said. "It shouldn't make that much difference."

On paper, the two major threats to Kitten's Joy are Prince Arch and Grand Heritage. Prince Arch is coming off a 5 3/4-length victory in the Forerunner at Keeneland on April 15. Trainer Ken McPeek said he is concerned about the quick turnaround and said Prince Arch is not definite to run. McPeek will still be represented in the race by Knox, an allowance winner in his 3-year-old debut.

Grand Heritage, trained by Bill Mott, could knock off Kitten's Joy. Grand Heritage was beaten only a neck by Kitten's Joy in an allowance race last November here. Grand Heritage had a troubled trip when he finished fourth in the Transylvania.

"He got stopped on the fence and had to come around," Mott said. "If he doesn't get stopped he's right on the money."