08/15/2013 4:21PM

Saratoga: Big Blue Kitten ready to turn the tables on Boisterous in Sword Dancer


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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Big Blue Kitten has only one blemish on his record over the last 5 1/2 months, that setback coming at the hands of Boisterous in the Grade  2 Monmouth Stakes on June  9. Trainer Chad Brown is looking forward to the having the opportunity to avenge that loss when Big Blue Kitten and Boisterous share high weight of 123 pounds against a field that may total as many as 13 starters in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga.

Big Blue Kitten, who won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame over this course as a 3-year-old, has flourished since returning from a dull showing last summer in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot. A homebred son of Kitten’s Joy owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Big Blue Kitten finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Boisterous in the nine-furlong Monmouth before stretching out another quarter-mile four weeks later to capture the Grade 1 United Nations under a rail-skimming ride by Joe Bravo.

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“He really ran great against Boisterous the last time and Joe [Bravo] felt he had an excuse that day,” said Brown. “He said early in the race he got shuffled back too far. He thought when he was running in the lane he was really gaining on Boisterous. Joe thought our horse ran so well and galloped out so strong after that race, that he was really, really confident about running back in the United Nations. He said ‘Now I know him. I was just a little out of position. It was my fault.’ So I ran him back in the United Nations, he had him in the right spot, and we won the race.”

Brown said he was less concerned about the fact Big Blue Kitten will be trying 1 1/2 miles for the first time in the Sword Dancer than he was about the size of the field.

“It’s only an eighth of a mile further. As long as the turf is firm I think it will carry him as far as my horse needs to go,” said Brown. “It’s always a concern when you’re coming from behind about having traffic issues in a big field. The pace will be the key and this horse is versatile enough to lay close if he has to.”

Boisterous has been a model of consistency for trainer Shug McGaughey throughout his career, having won 11 of 25 starts, including the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont in his last start five weeks ago. Boisterous finished off the board in his only previous try going 1 1/2 miles, but has won his last three starts at 1 3/8 miles, including the Man o’ War.

“He’s been running good, training good. I’m pleased with everything I’ve seen,” said McGaughey. “He spent a little time just freshening up at Fair Hill after he ran the last time and he’s had two good breezes here so I see no reason why he shouldn’t run well again.”

McGaughey said the 123-pound impost is his biggest concern.

“The distance doesn’t worry me and the big field doesn’t, but you’ve always got to worry about the weight a little bit,” said McGaughey. “But there’s not a lot I can do about that.”

Twilight Eclipse, second behind Boisterous after joining the leaders near midstretch in the Man o’ War, is perfect in two starts at 12 furlongs and is the track-record holder at the distance at Gulfstream Park, where he won the Grade 2 Pan American earlier this season for trainer Tom Albertrani.

“He’s doing well and a mile and one-half suits him,” said Albertrani. “Off his last race, I’d hope coming back with an extra eighth of a mile might make a difference.”

Optimizer, who has already placed in two Grade 1 races this year, including the Manhattan behind Point of Entry, has won 2 of his 3 starts over the local turf course for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He will try to improve off his fifth-place finish in the Man o’ War.

Al Khali will compete in the Sword Dancer for the fourth straight year. He finished a distant second behind the odds-on Point of Entry in this event last summer.

Star Channel, Teaks North, Stormy Lord, European invader Nutello, Tahoe Lake, Exclusive Strike, London Lane, and Tannery, the only filly in the field, complete the lineup.