02/14/2013 4:14PM

Kitten's Joy: Leading sire by turf winners, synthetic winners


No one was surprised when Kitten’s Joy had another successful year as a sire of turf runners in 2012, but as his stock has risen, the horse has shown that he has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

Year by year, the 12-year-old’s résumé and reputation have grown as he transitioned from one of North America’s elite turf runners into one of its elite turf sires, carrying the colors of his breeder and owner, Ramsey Farm, every step of the way.

That journey took a big step forward in 2012 when Kitten’s Joy, a son of El Prado, finished first among Midwest sires by turf winners, with 54 winners from 143 starters. His total turf earnings of $3,174,753 placed him fifth among Midwest sires.

Leading the way among his turf runners was Stephanie’s Kitten, who won two of five starts in 2012, including the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, for earnings of $289,223.

Kitten’s Joy also was the Midwest’s leading sire by winners on synthetic surfaces, with 31 winners and earnings of $1,187,199. His leading synthetic runner was Canadian Grade 3-placed Evil Kitten, who won two of seven starts and earned $168,877.

Kitten’s Joy stands at Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., for a fee of $50,000.

Ken Ramsey, who bred, raced, and stands Kitten’s Joy, went a long way in proving the sire with his own mares during the horse’s first years at stud and said he plans to send about 40 mares to him in 2013.

“The horse has done extremely well, and he got his best book of mares ever this past year,” Ramsey said. “He didn’t have the big horse this year like he had last year with Stephanie’s Kitten [winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes in 2011], but he had a whole lot of good runners.”

Perhaps what’s most impressive about the success of Kitten’s Joy is that he has become a leader in categories that usually favor sires with far more crops of racing age. Born in 2001, he is one of only two sires in the top 10 by number of turf winners to be born after 2000, the other being 2002 foal English Channel, and he is the youngest in the top 10 among sires of winners on synthetic surfaces. His 2-year-olds of 2013 will be his fifth crop of racing age.

Kitten’s Joy’s turf credentials were never in question when he entered stud in 2006, given that he had won the Eclipse Award as champion turf male two years earlier. However, his breeding career started around the time that synthetic racing surfaces such as Polytrack began to appear. Like every other stallion at the time, there were no performances from which to project the affinity of his foals to synthetic surfaces. But Ramsey said that Kitten’s Joy had all the qualities required for success.

“Usually a horse that runs good on the turf also runs pretty well on the synthetic surface,” Ramsey said. “There’s a direct correlation between it. If you check his pedigree, Sadler’s Wells [grandsire of Kitten’s Joy] did the majority of his running over in Europe, and over there, it’s practically all grass, and the Roberto line is grass, and the mare on the bottom side is a Lear Fan mare. He’s got grass in his pedigree, so we felt like he would do well on synthetic surfaces.”

Kitten’s Joy is a half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Precious Kitten and multiple stakes winner Justenuffheart, dam of champion Dreaming of Anna and multiple Grade 2 winners Lewis Michael and Justenuffhumor.

“This is the kind of horse that as the progeny gets older, I think they will be more productive, because he’s got a lot of stamina bred into him, and he comes from a good sire line,” Ramsey said. “His first five sires are all champions, and he was a champion. The bloodline is there on the sire side, and also on the dam’s side. The first three dams are either Grade 1 winners themselves or Grade 1 producers.”

Kitten’s Joy won nine of 14 starts, including seven graded stakes victories, for earnings of $2,075,791. His best season came as a 3-year-old in 2004, when he won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Secretariat Stakes, was runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and was voted champion turf male.

Leading Kentucky sires by 2012 number of turf winners

1 Kitten's Joy (2001, El Prado IRE) Ramsey Farm $50,000 143 54
2 Stormy Atlantic (1994, Storm Cat) Hill 'n' Dale Farms $30,000 151 49
3 Giant's Causeway (1997, Storm Cat) Ashford Stud $85,000 144 45
4 Smart Strike (1992, Mr. Prospector) Lane's End $85,000 116 42
5 Lemon Drop Kid (1996, Kingmambo) Lane's End $35,000 119 40
6 English Channel (2002, Smart Strike) Lane's End $25,000 87 38
6 Langfuhr (1992, Danzig) Lane's End $10,000 139 38
8 City Zip (1998, Carson City) Lane's End $25,000 98 36
9 Bernstein (1997, Storm Cat) Died 2011 116 33
9 More Than Ready (1997, Southern Halo) WinStar Farm $60,000 125 33
9 Speightstown (1998, Gone West) WinStar Farm  $60,000 121 33

Leading Kentucky sires by 2012 number of synthetic winners

1 Kitten's Joy (2001, El Prado IRE) Ramsey Farm $50,000 92 31
2 Langfuhr (1992, Danzig) Lane's End $10,000 86 28
3 Songandaprayer (1998, Unbridled's Song) Walmac Farm  $6,500 74 27
3 Stormy Atlantic (1994, Storm Cat) Hill 'n' Dale Farms $30,000 81 27
5 Broken Vow (1997, Unbridled) Pin Oak Stud $25,000 64 24
5 Candy Ride (ARG) (1999, Ride the Rails) Lane's End $40,000 70 24
7 Tiznow (1997, Cee's Tizzy) WinStar Farm  $75,000 85 23
8 Bernstein (1997, Storm Cat) Died 2011 83 22
9 City Zip (1998, Carson City) Lane's End $25,000 70 21
9 Grand Slam (1995, Gone West) Died 2012 64 21
9 Macho Uno (1998, Holy Bull) Adena Springs Kentucky $20,000 59 21
9 Speightstown (1998, Gone West) WinStar Farm  $60,000 59 21
9 Thunder Gulch (1992, Gulch) Ashford Stud $10,000 48 21