08/09/2006 11:00PM

Kin to top turfers seek first stakes


Barring dramatic improvement, Fantastic Shirl and Precious Kitten will not the match the accomplishments of some of their family members. Not that there is any fault in that - are half-sisters to Grade 1 turf winners Shakespeare and Kitten's Joy, respectively.

The goals for each are more modest - winning a stakes race. Saturday they have such an opportunity, racing in the $50,000 Audubon Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Ellis Park.

Although they are not in the same class as their famous half-brothers, Fantastic Shirl and Precious Kitten share something in common with them: a fondness for grass racing. All their wins have come on turf, makthe Audubon at 1 1/16 miles on turf a good fit.

Precious Kitten, a homebred daughter of Catienus owned and bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who also raced champion Kitten's Joy, looms the likely favorite on the basis of a couple competitive stakes efforts. At the recently concluded Churchill Downs meet, she ran third in the Grade 3 Regret on June 17 and followed that effort with a runner-up finish in the Heavenly Cause overnight handicap on July 16.

The Regret performance earned her a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, the Heavenly Cause an 88. Both numbers rank among the best in the nine-horse field.

She is also established against top company, having run competitively in the Regret behind victorious Lady of Venice and runner-up Magnificent Song. Magnificent Song came back to win the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga on July 28.

John Jacinto, who through Wednesday at Ellis had won with 15 of 44 mounts (34 percent), has the mount for trainer Dale Romans.

Fantastic Shirl acts like a promising filly in her own right, although she lacks stakes experience. A daughter of Fantastic Light, she rolled to a 4 1/4-length victory against first-level allowance competition at Churchill on July 2 after a pair of runner-up finishes there earlier in the meet. She earned an 85 Beyer in her allowance score. Josue' Arce rides for trainer Bill Mott and owner Dell Ridge Farm.

Other prominent entries in the Audubon include , the stakes-placed Kickin' the Clouds, and Beau Dare, who won of last year's Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park.