07/12/2012 2:04PM

Ellis Park: Kathmanblu seeks wake-up call in Ellis Park Turf


In the spring of last year Kathmanblu was regarded as one of the top 3-year-old fillies in the country. Having won four stakes by that point, she went into the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes and finished third as the favorite, and then returned a month later and ran sixth at 4-1 odds in the Kentucky Oaks.

Fourteen months later with her form in decline, Kathmanblu is just trying to win a race – specifically Saturday’s $50,000 Ellis Park Turf.

Matched against nine fillies and mares, led by stakes winner Artemus Kitten, Kathmanblu is no cinch, even though she has earned more than $584,000, well in excess of the bankrolls of her opponents.

Spotty recent form and a nine-race losing streak since taking the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds in February 2011 make Kathmanblu a tough filly to evaluate.

Even her trainer, Ken McPeek, admits to being surprised that she has not run to her potential. Still, he is staying cautiously optimistic with Kathmanblu, hoping that a pair of rear-half finishes in recent starts can be excused.

He said she was discovered to have an elevated liver enzyme count following a poor effort when seventh in the May 26 Arlington Matron, and then after that was brought under control, she went into heat on raceday when competing in the June 27 Shelby County Stakes at Indiana Downs. She ran sixth in that race, beaten six lengths.

Kathmanblu didn’t compete with the anti-bleeding medication Lasix in the Shelby County, nor will she Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile Ellis Park Turf.

McPeek said he chose to stop treating her with the medication, not wanting to strain her liver.

“If it’s not needed, we try not to use it,” he said.

Fabio Arguello Jr. rides Kathmanblu, a 4-year-old daughter of Bluegrass Cat owned by Five D Thoroughbreds.

In addition to Artemus Kitten, who won the Bayou Handicap at Fair Grounds in March over graded stakes winner Upperline, Ridgester rates as a contender after a strong first outing on grass.

Stretching out from main-track sprints and seemingly disadvantaged by racing 1 1/8 miles on turf, she was prominent from the start and finished second to 2012 Ashland winner Karlovy Vary in a third-level allowance, holding off Artemus Kitten by a neck for the place.