07/07/2011 4:34PM

Ellis: Maple Leaf Kitten takes big class drop


As class drops go, the one Maple Leaf Kitten takes into Saturday’s eighth race at Ellis Park, a $28,000 first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf, is as noticeable as they come.

A Kitten’s Joy colt, Maple Leaf Kitten last started in the June 26 Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, the prestigious $1 million Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds. Outclassed in that race and perhaps not taking to the Polytrack, he finished 16th of 17 at 57-1 odds, but he ought to fare better Saturday at Ellis Park. He returns to turf, a surface on which he won his only race by a head June 8 at Indiana Downs.

A deep closer, Maple Leaf Kitten catches a field with ample speed in the lineup, and he should prove a late factor under Ben Creed. Joe Woodard trains Maple Leaf Kitten, who was claimed for $75,000 from a maiden claiming race at Gulfstream Park in March.

The likely favorite is Sharp Won. He failed to keep up in a fast allowance race on dirt at Churchill Downs June 10 but finished second on the grass in an allowance at Churchill Downs on May 10.

Trained by Brad Cox for Midwest Thoroughbreds, Sharp Won was claimed April 14 for $35,000 and won a starter allowance on Polytrack at Keeneland April 29 in his race before running second on the Churchill Downs turf. He stands out on recent Beyer Speed Figures, having run three consecutive figures of 76 or higher, even when outrun at Churchill on dirt. None of his seven rivals has been as consistently quick.

Jon Court rides.

Other contenders include Wild Entry, who has been in poor form of late but ran high speed figures at Gulfstream Park a couple of times over the winter; Southern Ocean, who ran third in a $50,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds on the grass at Churchill Downs June 9; and Gentesmansapproval, who showed speed before fading to ninth in his first turf route June 25 at Churchill.