08/19/2012 6:11PM

Saratoga: Stephanie's Kitten surges when hole opens late in Lake Placid

Barbara D. Livingston
John Velazquez guides Stephanie's Kitten to a half-length victory in the Grade 2 Lake Placid.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Boxed in along the rail of the inner turf course in upper stretch, Stephanie’s Kitten appeared as though she was going to have another troubled trip in a graded stakes at Saratoga.

Unlike last month’s Lake George Stakes, however, when Stephanie’s Kitten got stuck behind horses, jockey John Velazquez was able to find running room inside the eighth pole. He guided Stephanie’s Kitten into the three-path and she rocketed past Centre Court to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid Stakes by one-half length.

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 Centre Court, who had won the Grade 2 Lake George, finished second by three-quarters of a length over Somali Lemonade. Medolina, Better Lucky, and Disposablepleasure completed the order of finish.

 The win was the fifth from nine starts for Stephanie’s Kitten - last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner - and she became racing’s newest millionaire with career earnings of $1,104,082.

In the Lake George, a hole closed in upper stretch on Velazquez and Stephanie’s Kitten and they were beaten one-half length when fourth behind Centre Court.

 Sunday, Velazquez saved all the ground on Stephanie’s Kitten as Medolina set the pace, stalked by Centre Court. Velazquez bided his time, deciding whether to try to split the front-running pair or go around. He chose the latter option when room developed and Stephanie’s Kitten was able to reel in Centre Court three strides from the wire.

“I was a little more cautious about today trying to take the spot,” Velazquez said. “Last time, the spot was there and I went into the spot without any hesitation and Javier [Castellano] came back out and the spot closed. Today, I took my time, let me see where I’m going to go … in between them or go around them and I went little by little. I didn’t gun into a spot until I knew where I was going. Once I pulled her out she responded right away.”

 Running her final eighth in 11.47 seconds, Stephanie’s Kitten covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.51 and returned $4.20 as the even-money favorite.

Wayne Catalano, who trains Stephanie’s Kitten for owners/breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, said he was not concerned about getting another troubled trip.

“When you got Johnny Velazquez up, you don’t worry about that,” Catalano said. “Sometimes you’re going to get a trip like we got last time. Most of the time you’re going to get this kind of trip.”

 Catalano said the plan for Stephanie’s Kitten is the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 13 followed by the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

 Rusty Arnold, the trainer of Centre Court, said his filly just got outrun but he looks forward to meeting Stephanie’s Kitten again at Keeneland.

“We had a great trip. I thought we had her boxed in. When she got out she outran us,” Arnold said. “We were running too. We’ll try her again at Keeneland. Disappointed we lost - you always want to win - but the effort was there.”