01/21/2013 9:18AM

Gulfstream Park: Charming Kitten does sire proud by earning narrow win in Kitten's Joy

Courtney Heeney
John Velazquez collects his fourth win of the day aboard Charming Kitten in the Kitten's Joy Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  In an appropriate but not totally unexpected turn of events, the odds-on Charming Kitten, a son of Kitten’s Joy, outgamed a tenacious but still somewhat green Bambazonki to register a one-length victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Charming Kitten was trapped wide throughout when finishing second in the one-mile Dania Beach to close out his 2-year-old campaign here last month. He was able to secure better early position under jockey John Velazquez in his 3-year-old debut, stalking the contested early pace set by two more sons of Kitten’s Joy, Redwood Kitten and Prado Cat.

Charming Kitten y advanced three wide to join the leaders on the final turn with Bambazonki lapped on his outer shoulder while launching his rally simultaneously on the bend. The pair bumped soundly in early stretch with Bambazonki appearing to lug in on the favorite at that point. Charming Kitten  gradually  edged to command through the final sixteenth with jockey Jose Lezcano still  having his hands full trying to keep the runner-up from leaning in near the end.

Redwood Kitten outlasted the others to finish third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Bambazonki.

Charming Kitten gave Velazquez his fourth winner on the card and trainer Todd Pletcher his third. Charming Kitten completed the distance in 1:43.43 over a firm course and paid $3.40.

“We got a little better trip than last time and he was able to finish up,” said Pletcher. “We wanted to get in a nice stalking position and sit behind some comfortable fractions. The other horse kind of leaned in and gave us a bit of a bump at the top of the stretch and kind of knocked us sideways but we  were able to regroup. I think this colt is continuing to improve and mentally put it all together and start to figure the game out.”

Pletcher said Charming Kitten would likely wait to run in the Grade 3, $100,000 Palm Beach here on March 3.

Ken Ramsey, who owns Charming Kitten and was also the owner of the top sire Kitten’s Joy, said “I’m overjoyed by the result. Kitten’s Joy has been doing well on the farm. He had a big book of mares last year, and they’re responding well this year.”