11/02/2017 12:46PM

Kitten's Roar a key player in Goldikova Stakes – if she runs

Reed Palmer/Kentucky Downs
Ramsey homebred Kitten's Roar won the Ramsey Farm Stakes on Sept. 14 at Kentucky Downs.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Coffee or Bloody Mary won’t be the only difficult choice facing thousands of fans arriving on time Saturday for the first of 12 races at Del Mar.

The lid-lifter goes at 10:10 a.m. Pacific with a handicapping jumble not unlike what will take place here the entire day, until the sun dips low into the western horizon. It’s the Grade 2, $200,000 Goldikova, a one-mile turf race that drew a full gate of 14 fillies and mares. The Goldikova is the first of three straight non-Breeders’ Cup stakes that precede the nine Saturday BC events (races 4-12).

Kitten’s Roar, the first of two also-eligibles for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, looms a major threat in the Goldikova, assuming she did not somehow make it into the Filly and Mare Turf when scratch time (9 a.m. Pacific on Friday) passed. As of Thursday, owner Ken Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker were still waiting to hear whether someone else’s misfortune would become the opportunity they were hoping for.

“This was always the Plan B, to run in the Goldikova in case we didn’t make the Breeders’ Cup,” said Ramsey, adding that he thought Kitten’s Roar might have a better chance in the 1 1/8-mile BC Filly and Mare Turf. “I don’t know if she can get up going a mile, but she is a classy mare.”

John Velazquez has the call in both spots on Kitten’s Roar, a 5-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy with 13 firsts or seconds from 18 career starts. Her presence (or not) will be a key element to a race otherwise deep in contenders, starting with On Leave, Mrs McDougal, Sassy Little Lila, and a handful of others.

On Leave will break from the rail in the two-turn race with Jose Ortiz getting the call from trainer Shug McGaughey. Bred and owned by Stuart Janney of Ruffian fame, the gray 4-year-old daughter of War Front was an odds-on winner of the All Along at Laurel Park seven Saturdays ago and shows four sharp workouts in the interim, ending with a half-mile blowout last Sunday over the Del Mar turf.

Mrs McDougal, a multiple graded winner, will try to redeem herself as a beaten favorite in the restricted Swingtime last month at Santa Anita. Javier Castellano climbs aboard for Richard Mandella.

Sassy Little Lila, runner-up in the Grade 1 Just a Game in June for Brad Cox, will have to be sent from post 14 by Luis Saez, and presumably will be forcing the early pace.

Other considerations in a terrific way to start Breeders’ Cup Saturday include Thundering Sky, a last-out winner of the restricted De La Rose in early August at Saratoga; Goldy Espony, racing with blinkers on for Bob Baffert; Madame Stripes, beaten just a nose in the Swingtime under Joe Talamo; and the wild card of the group, Aljazzi, a British-bred filly getting first-time Lasix in her North American debut.