10/12/2013 5:28PM

Keeneland: Kitten's Dumplings wins Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Coady Photography
Kitten's Dumplings (No. 7), ridden by Julien Leparoux, wins the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for her fourth stakes win of the year.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – When does it end? Ken and Sarah Ramsey won yet another Grade 1 race with a homebred sired by Kitten’s Joy, this time the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup with an ultra-game filly named Kitten’s Dumplings on a record-setting, sun-splashed Saturday at Keeneland.

Kitten’s Dumplings, with Julien Leparoux riding for trainer Mike Maker, rallied from well back to narrowly defeat the 17-10 favorite, Alterite, in the 30th running of the QE II, returning $11.80 as the third choice in a field of nine 3-year-old turf fillies.

The victory added to an incredible year for the Ramseys and their homebred stallion, Kitten’s Joy, as the Ramseys lengthened their lead atop the 2013 North American owners’ standings with almost $11 million in earnings.

Before an announced fall-meet-record crowd of 32,717 – many of whom left early so as to be in their seats for the Alabama-Kentucky college football game – the QE II unfolded with Leigh Court setting the pace in the 1 1/8-mile race and I’m Already Sexy in closest pursuit.

After straightening for home, however, everything changed, with Kitten’s Dumplings surging to a short lead approaching the sixteenth pole, only to have to fight resolutely to prevail by a neck over Alterite.

Caroline Thomas rallied late to finish another half-length back in third, with Leigh Court another half-length back in fourth. Then came Say, I’m Already Sexy, Emotional Kitten, Sarach, and Concise.

Alterite raced in midpack for much of the trip under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who would have surpassed Pat Day ($297,914,839) as the all-time earnings leader among North American riders with a victory. Instead, that record will have to wait for a little while longer.

Leparoux said he was conscious of Alterite’s presence and moved his mount accordingly.

“I tried to get a jump on [Velazquez],” said Leparoux, who since 2006 won or tied for nine Keeneland meet titles before moving to Southern California. “I knew it was Johnny. He never could catch up.”

Kitten’s Dumplings, a winner of 6 of 12 career starts and $691,262, finished in 1:48.43 over a firm course. It was the filly’s fourth stakes win this year, following the Edgewood and Grade 3 Regret at Churchill and the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga.

She had finished fourth as the favorite in her previous start, the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, on Aug. 17, a day when the Ramseys won three Grade 1 races with sons of Kitten’s Joy (Secretariat, Arlington Million, and Sword Dancer).

The $2 exacta (7-4) paid $33.40, the $1 trifecta (7-4-3) returned $168.50, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-4-3-8) was worth $109.06.

Saturday’s attendance easily surpassed the former fall-meet record of 28,880, set in 2006. The all-time Keeneland mark is 40,617, set on Blue Grass Stakes Day at the 2012 spring meet.