03/04/2013 3:54PM

Gulfstream Park: Big Blue Kitten headed back to stakes ranks

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Tom Keyser
Big Blue Kitten won an optional claimer at Gulfstream on Sunday and is being pointed for the Ben Ali at Keeneland next.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Big Blue Kitten will return to graded stakes company after registering a half-length optional claiming victory over Summer Front in Sunday’s co-feature. Big Blue Kitten, who had finished third in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale in his 2013 debut, circled the field while rallying around the final bend under Javier Castellano before wearing down the pacesetting Decisive Moment for his second win in three tries at the meet.

“He ran well, and Javier rode a great race,” trainer Chad Brown said. “I was looking for the right spot. I thought he’d run in a stakes, but I just couldn’t find anything I was comfortable with. But another allowance start under his belt should probably help him moving forward the rest of the year.”

Brown gave Big Blue Kitten the summer off after he returned from Ascot following his 10th-place finish in the Prince of Wales Stakes in June. A homebred son of Kitten’s Joy owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Big Blue Kitten finished third in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap here a year ago.

“I just needed to get him reacclimated after he came back from England,” Brown said. “I got a few horses from Ken from over there, and they all acted like tired horses. I kind of started them all over, just like I would the other European horses I get. We pretty much started from scratch, and this one has come back real well.”

Brown said he’ll probably train Big Blue Kitten up to the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland, a race in which he finished a distant second behind Wise Dan last spring.

Summer Front took back to last during the early stages of the race, moved up near the inside around the second turn, had to squeeze through a very narrow hole while rallying through midstretch, and was coming on strong once clear at the end. The outing was the first against older horses for the Grade 1-placed Summer Front and his first since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25. Summer Front was ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario, who booted home four winners on last Friday’s card.

“I thought he ran a good race; he was a little unlucky,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “I’m happy with the effort, but I would have been happier if he would have won.”

Clement said he had nothing picked out for Summer Front’s next start.