06/16/2010 11:00PM

Dean's Kitten primed to rebound


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Very infrequently can a handicapper analyze the past performances of a horse and feel confident in dismissing a race in which the runner lost by 20 lengths or more.

The Kentucky Derby is one of those rare exceptions of a forgivable race. The depth and talent of the field, as well as the conditions of racing 1 1/4 miles for the first time in front of a screaming crowd of more than 150,000 people, has a way of breaking the hearts of many a talented runner

These Derby challenges are compounded further for those horses whose graded stakes accomplishments on turf and/or synthetic tracks gained them entry into the Derby.

For that reason I feel perfectly at ease tossing out the 14th-place finish from Dean's Kitten in the Kentucky Derby, a race in which he was beaten 28 3/4 lengths by Super Saver, and backing him to win Saturday's $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial downs.

Dean's Kitten was out of his element on dirt in the Derby, and even more so, when the track came up sloppy. In his only prior experience on dirt, he had similarly been soundly defeated, finishing last of five over a "good" main track in the Pilgrim last year, 33 3/4 lengths behind Eskendereya.

But it is worth noting that three weeks after that thrashing, he not only returned to form, but ran his best race as a 2-year-old, winning the Vision Stakes on soft turf at Belmont Park.

Now a similar form reversal appears in order in the Colonial Turf Cup.

Besides his last race being a toss-out, he has trained swiftly on a weekly basis since mid-May, signaling that he is in good health and fitness.

Dean's Kitten is a skilled turf/synthetic performer - which he showed with a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on turf at Gulfstream in March, followed by a victory in the Grade 2 Lane's End on Polytrack at Turfway.

Admittedly, he was beaten in the Palm Beach by Paddy O'Prado, who goes in the Colonial Turf Cup as well. But Paddy O'Prado is 9-5 on the morning line, and likely to get hammered after a third in the Derby and a sixth in the Preakness.

Dean's Kitten, by comparison, is 8-1. Furthermore, he gets a break in the weights at 117 pounds, receiving four pounds from the highweights, Paddy O'Prado and Doubles Partner.

Although Dean's Kitten's lone graded win came on Polytrack, being by Kitten's Joy, everything about his pedigree suggests he should be every bit as good on the turf as on the synthetic - if not better.

He also benefits from catching a couple of other rivals - Workin for Hops and Doubles Partner - coming off favorable trips that contributed to their fast recent victories. Chances are they won't be so fortunate in the Colonial Turf Cup.

Workin for Hops got away with an easy pace when racing loose on the lead in the $100,000 Arlington Classic May 22, and Doubles Partner, meanwhile, was able to save ground around both turns in rallying from 16 lengths back to win the Grade 2 American Turf on Kentucky Oaks Day.

All Along

A race earlier on the Colonial card, older fillies and mares will be showcased in the Grade 3 All Along - a race that drew a nice group of eight, led by likely favorites Tizaqueena and Dynaslew.

Taking into account price, my choice is 3-1 Shared Account, who ran a wide fourth in one of the better renewals of the Gallorette when making her first start as a 4-year-old May 15 on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.

As she had not raced since finishing second in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 17, it was a race she likely needed to regain peak fitness, and yet it was still one of the best races of her career. She lost by just three-quarters of a length to Rainbow View, a top-class mare.

The race earned her a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98, eight points higher than her prior Beyer top, when she had posted a 90 Beyer in winning the Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga on soft turf.

Surprisingly, her race in the Gallorette was the first time she had caught a firm turf course in six grass tries.

With warm, sunny conditions forecasted through Saturday for New Kent, Virginia, where Colonial is located, she should get firm ground again. And that might be all she needs for another top-level performance.