05/26/2008 12:00AM

Precious Kitten capitalizes on ideal trip


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A tough trip cost Precious Kitten dearly when she finished fifth in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland last month. A perfect trip in Monday's $283,000 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park gave the star 5-year-old mare her first win of 2008.

Diamond Diva took a commanding lead shortly after the start in the field of five fillies and mares, allowing jockey Rafael Bejarano to guide Precious Kitten into second, stalking the leader.

Precious Kitten tracked Diamond Diva through early fractions of 22.35 and 45.84 seconds, caught Diamond Diva in early stretch, and was hand-ridden to the finish, winning by a cozy 2 1/4 lengths. Precious Kitten ($4.40) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:45.23.

Diamond Diva, ridden by Mike Smith, finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Rutherienne.

The early scenario occurred exactly as envisioned by Humberto Ascanio, assistant to Precious Kitten's trainer Bobby Frankel.

"I knew Mike was going to go," Ascanio said.

Lavender Sky and Solva completed the order of finish.

In the past, Precious Kitten has shown the ability to lead throughout - as she did in the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap last summer - or stalk the pace.

"This filly is easy to ride," Ascanio said.

Precious Kitten won for the first time since the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes over a mile on turf here last November. The Jenny Wiley Stakes, in which she was wide throughout, was her first start of the year.

Precious Kitten, by Catienus, has won 8 of 21 starts and $1,602,088. She was purchased privately earlier this year by Roy and Gretchen Jackson's Lael Stables.

Diamond Diva suffered the first loss of her American career. Owned by Three Chimneys Racing and trained by Jim Cassidy, Diamond Diva, 4, won the American Beauty and Grade 3 Wilshire handicaps earlier this year spring.