08/17/2013 5:28PM

Saratoga: Bravo guides Big Blue Kitten to Sword Dancer victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Big Blue Kitten, with Joe Bravo aboard, takes the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -  Jockey Joe Bravo had supreme confidence in Big Blue Kitten coming into Saturday’s $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga and trainer Chad Brown was equally as confident his rider could work out a trip that would find the entire team posing in the winner’s circle at the conclusion of the Grade 1 turf fixture.

Sure enough, all that confidence translated into a last-to-first victory for Big Blue Kitten, who ran down a game Twilight Eclipse en route to a one-length decision in the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer. Nutello ran a big race in his United States debut, finishing another 1 3/4 lengths farther back in third after slipping along the hedge to join for command near midstretch.

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Boisterous, the 9-5 favorite in a full field of 12 long-winded grass specialists, failed to kick on late after a wide trip and finished eighth.

Bravo teamed up with Big Blue Kitten for the first time when the pair finished second behind Boisterous in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes on June 9.  He implored  Brown to run Big Blue Kitten back four weeks later over the same course in the United Nations and rewarded his trainer with a perfect rail-skimming effort that earned Big Blue Kitten, a homebred son of Kitten’s Joy, his first Grade 1 win.

Big Blue Kitten settled near the rear of the field in the Sword Dancer while Stormy Lord, his entrymate from the Ken and Sarah Ramsey Stable, set the early pace. Big Blue Kitten was shuffled to the rear of the pack after the opening half-mile,  still appeared to be bottled up in traffic entering the stretch, but finished full of run once Bravo found a seam near the eighth pole to readily run down Twilight Eclipse and win going away. Twilight Eclipse sat a perfect trip just off the early leaders, moved to the lead once settling into the stretch, fended off a bid from Nutello, but proved no match for the winner.

Big Blue Kitten completed 12 furlongs in 2:26.46 over the firm course and paid $7.90.

“I just left it up to Joe,” said Brown. “He’s had so much confidence in this horse since the first time he rode him. He really talked me into running him in the U.N., and I was super confident bringing him up here to keep him on this horse. In the paddock, he said ‘I just love this horse. I’ll work the trip out,’ and he did.”

Brown acknowledged the help Big Blue Kitten received from Stormy Lord, who is trained by Mike Maker.

“Mr. Ramsey’s other horse did set the pace and I’m appreciative of that,” said Brown. “Another trainer, Mike Maker, helped us out. We’re all a team, and Joe did the rest. He got in a little trouble at the quarter pole. How he got out of it, I don’t know, but he did.”

Brown said he will likely run Big Blue Kitten once more before the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Trainer Tom Albertrani said he was proud of Twilight Eclipse’s effort in defeat.

“He made a good effort. We’ll just have to regroup and try him back again the next time,” said Albertrani. “We got a great trip. He was in the right spot. The other one was just a little better than us today.”