03/27/2014 3:54PM

Gulfstream Park: Admiral Kitten tries marathon in Pan American

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Admiral Kitten, winner of the 1 1/8-mile John B. Connally Turf Cup, last time out, will stretch out to 1 1/2 miles for Saturday's Pan American.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Admiral Kitten has won stakes at distance from a mile to 1 1/4 miles. Saturday, he will try to expand his horizons when he runs in the Grade 2, $200,000 Pan American Stakes at 1 1/2 miles at Gulfstream Park.

Admiral Kitten was one of 11 horses entered in the Pan Am, but Amira’s Prince will scratch and instead run in Saturday’s Mervin Muniz Stakes at Fair Grounds.

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Admiral Kitten, a Kitten’s Joy colt trained by Michael Maker for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, won the Grade 1 Secretariat at 1 1/4 miles last August. He began this year with a neck victory in the Grade 3 John B. Connally Turf Cup going 1 1/8 miles at Sam Houston on Jan. 25.

“I’ve been anxious to try him a mile and a half,” said Maker. “This looks like a good opportunity.”

Maker noted that in the Connally “there was no pace in the race and he was still able to close and get the job done.”

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“You have to admire his consistency.”

Asked what gave him confidence Admiral Kitten can get 1 1/2 miles, Maker said, “Obviously Kitten’s Joy is the main thing.”

Admiral Kitten is one of three progeny of Kitten’s Joy in this field. Charming Kitten, beaten a head in the 1 1/4-mile Virginia Derby last year, is another. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Charming Kitten ran sixth in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap here on Feb. 9.

“It was a Grade 1, he wasn’t beaten that far,” Pletcher said. “Kind of got stuck on the inside. I didn’t think he ran badly. It seemed like the timing was right to try the three-turn race and see how he does.”

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Suntracer, winless since the fall of 2012, is the third son of Kitten’s Joy in the field. He was beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Mac Diarmida here on Feb. 15.

Other contenders in this field include Slumber, Vertiformer and Joha.