02/21/2012 3:29PM

Gulfstream Park: Stephanie’s Kitten works fast on turf

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Wayne Catalano said he’s yet to pick out a spot for Stephanie’s Kitten’s 3-year-old debut.

Stephanie’s Kitten hasn’t run since closing her sensational 2-year-old campaign with a game victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. But if her five-furlong work over the turf here Sunday is any indication, she’s in for an even bigger year at 3.

Working officially for only the second time since returning to training this winter and for the first time on grass, Stephanie’s Kitten zipped five furlongs in 58 and change over a firm course Sunday in company with stablemate Burn the Mortgage. The tab also included the multiple graded stakes winner Little Mike, who breezed the same distance from the same point on the course (exact distances are calibrated and clearly marked for the riders on the local turf course even with the rails out) in a leisurely 1:01.

“We stopped on her after the Breeders’ Cup and just waited for her to come around this winter,” trainer Wayne Catalano said on Sunday. “She’s not loving the surface on the main track here; it looks like she really doesn’t want dirt. She acts like she only wants to play on grass. She was only two-minute-licking when she made time for a half-mile last week on the main track. Naturally, I didn’t want her to work that fast this morning, but we know she’s very good. I’ve been waiting for her to tell me when she’s ready. I guess she spoke pretty loud today.”

Catalano said he’s yet to pick out a spot for Stephanie’s Kitten’s 3-year-old debut. Her first major objective this season figures to be Keeneland’s Grade 1 Ashland on April 7. Stephanie’s Kitten won the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland as a prelude to her victory in the Breeders’ Cup.

Dancinginherdreams bounces back

Dancinginherdreams is a filly who showed a tremendous amount of promise at 2, but never quite lived up to expectations at 3. But after winning her 2012 debut here Sunday, trainer John Ward is hoping the almost-white daughter of Tapit is finally ready to have a breakthrough season as a 4-year-old.

Dancinginherdreams rallied from far back to win her only two starts as a 2-year-old, including Churchill Downs’s Grade 2 Pocahontas, but went winless in five tries at 3 that included second-place finishes as the 6-5 favorite here last winter in both the Grade 2 Forward Gal and Grade 2 Davona Dale stakes. She had been idle more than three months when she returned to defeat second-level optional claiming competition going a 1 1/16 miles under jockey Edgar Prado on Sunday.

“She was really ready to run the first week of January, but bruised a foot and I had to wait six weeks to get her back in,” Ward said. “My expectations were that she’d always be better going long, but I need to see it again to be sure. It was nice to see her use her big stride to keep close and kick on home like she did today.”

Ward said the Grade 3 Rampart might be asking a little much of Dancinginherdreams when asked if she would jump back into stakes company for her next start.

“I’m not sure at this point I want to look Awesome Feather in the eye for $150,000,” Ward said.

Boisterous uncertain for Mac Diarmida

Boisterous is among the top contenders for Sunday’s Grade 2 Mac Diarmida, but trainer Shug McGaughey said he’s uncertain whether he’ll run the multiple graded stakes winner in the 11-furlong turf fixture.

Boisterous closed his 2011 campaign with victories in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap and Grade 3 Knickerbocker. McGaughey scratched Boisterous from the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 11.

“I just wasn’t sure what condition the turf course was going to be in that day,” McGaughey said.

Heavy rains earlier in the week had softened the course prior to the 1 1/8-mile Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

“I’m just not sure whether I want to run him this far this early in the year,” McGaughey said regarding Boisterous’s status for the Mac Diarmida. “I just don’t want to take the spark out of him this early in the season.”