01/20/2011 5:24PM

Kathmanblu starts campaign on turf in Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream


Kathmanblu will be the heavy favorite to win the Sweetest Chant, even though her best race to date has come on dirt, her 8 1/2-length victory in Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod on Nov. 27. And even though she may be better on dirt than turf, McPeek said it is unlikely that Kathmanblu will start if the weather forces management to move the Sweetest Chant to the main track.

“I’d lean against running her if the race comes off, because that would mean she’d have to run a one-turn mile out of the chute over what could be an off track, and I really don’t want to take the risk of hurting her because right now she’s my Oaks filly,” McPeek said.

Kathmanblu has made four of her six career starts on grass, winning Keeneland’s Jessamine as a prelude to a troubled third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“Talk about a horse who has really matured and a horse who is really doing well right now, and it’s her,” said McPeek who will again partner Kathmanblu with regular rider Julien Leparoux on Saturday.

Nine 3-year-old fillies entered the Sweetest Chant, including Greatest Dream who is in as a main-track-only horse.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who beat Kathmanblu with More Than Real in the Breeders’ Cup, will try her again Saturday with Excited, a stakes-placed daughter of Giant’s Causeway who finished second in Belmont’s Good Mood on Oct. 31. She also was fourth following a wide trip behind the then-undefeated Winter Memories in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo.

Nina Fever looks like the one to catch returning from the West Coast, where she closed out her 3-year-old campaign finishing seventh after leading into the stretch of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. She also is stakes placed, having missed by a head as the odds-on favorite in Woodbine’s seven-furlong Glorious Song.

Holidaysatthefarm, a late-running second as the 3-5 favorite in Calder’s John Franks Juvenile Fillies turf; Michelle’s Trip, War Prospector, Tiger Girl, and Bellaridge round out the field. Tiger Girl, a two-time turf stakes winner at 2, will make her first start since being transferred to trainer Bill Mott’s barn at the end of her juvenile campaign.