08/10/2012 4:06PM

Saratoga: Stephanie's Kitten ready for Lake Placid Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Stephanie’s Kitten works six furlongs in 1:12.32 over the Oklahoma turf course on Friday at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Wayne Catalano brought 15 horses to Saratoga this summer, but there is little doubt which one is the reason the former rider decided to try his luck here for the first time in 2012. That horse is Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Stephanie’s Kitten, who kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Grade 1 Ashland, finished an unlucky fourth making her local debut in the Grade 2 Lake George on July 25. She’ll attempt to make amends when wheeling back next Sunday in the Grade 2 Lake Placid.

Stephanie’s Kitten had her final major prep for the 1 1/8-mile Lake Placid over the Oklahoma turf course on a dreary Friday morning, working six furlongs in 1:12.32 inside the dogs about 15 minutes prior to the infield strip’s regular opening at 10 a.m.

“It was an incredible work, she came back wonderful, scoped clean, and everything is on target for the Lake Placid,” said Catalano who won more than 1,500 races during his riding career and is just six shy of his 2,300th winner as a trainer.

Catalano said he was pleased with Stephanie’s Kitten’s performance, even in defeat, in the Lake George.

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“I wasn’t disappointed, because she was so much the best,” Catalano said. “She got slammed on the first turn, wound up further back than Johnny [Velazquez] wanted, and then got slammed again going for a spot on the inside when trying to rally near midstretch. You always fear a good 2-year-old won’t make the transition at 3, but she has, and right now, I like the way things are unfolding for us. If all goes well in this next race, she’ll have one more start – in the QEII – before going back to the Breeders’ Cup later this year.”

Catalano said he decided to bring a string to Saratoga this summer primarily because of Stephanie’s Kitten and also as a testing ground to perhaps race in New York on a year-round basis in the near future.

“We put together a little stable to bring here around her,” Catalano said. “We’ve already won two races, and with a little luck, it could have been four. But that’s the game anywhere you race, and we understand it.”

Stephanie’s Kitten was one of two fillies tuning up for the Lake Placid over the Oklahoma turf course Friday, along with Somali Lemonade who went a half-mile in company in 48.44 seconds around the dogs along with the general population after 10 a.m.

Sky Blazer impresses in turf drill

Arguably the best work over the Oklahoma turf Friday was turned in by Sky Blazer, who blazed five furlongs in 59.08 seconds for trainer Barclay Tagg. Sky Blazer, a troubled sixth in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap on July 14, is nominated to but not likely to start in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on Saturday.

“The Sword Dancer comes up a little too quick, the Bernard Baruch is a better spot timing-wise and should also be a little easier for him,” said Robin Smullin, Tagg’s assistant. “He went faster than we wanted this morning, but he did it so easily, he just looked like he was cantering out there.”