10/12/2010 2:14PM

Silent Joy has owner in swell spot

Barbara D. Livingston
With trainer Michelle Nihei (above) as an adviser, Danny Gargan bought Silent Joy as a yearling in 2009.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Danny Gargan grew up in Louisville in the hard-scrabble Churchill Downs neighborhood, not exactly a breeding ground for owners who run horses in stakes races at Keeneland. Yet there Gargan will be Thursday, rubbing elbows in the Keeneland paddock with the well-heeled and erudite, eager to see his 2-year-old filly, Silent Joy, start as one of the contenders in a wide-open 20th running of the $150,000 Jessamine Stakes.

“It’s the kind of thing you thought you might never get to do,” said Gargan, whose father, also named Danny, was a jockey who died in an automobile accident when his son was just 4. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Gargan, 39, has filled numerous roles on American backstretches and frontsides since his youth, from assistant trainer to horseplayer to jockey agent to bloodstock wheeler-dealer. Last year, with trainer Michelle Nihei as an adviser, he bought a Kitten’s Joy yearling off of Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s farm, and after the filly, eventually named Silent Joy, won at first asking at Saratoga in August, Gargan protected what has become a sage investment by selling partial interest to Nils Brous and Adam Wachtel.

Silent Joy then ran a creditable fifth in her only subsequent start, the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park. With none of her Jessamine rivals owning markedly better credentials, she will be one of the wagering choices when she breaks from post 9 with John Velazquez aboard in the Jessamine, a 1 1/16-mile turf race carded as the eighth of nine Thursday races.

Perhaps the top two challengers to Silent Joy also exit a New York stakes and are drawn directly outside of her: Lauren Byrd (post 10, Garrett Gomez) and Kathmanblu (post 11, Julien Leparoux), the respective fourth- and second-place finishers in the P.G. Johnson Stakes at the end of the Saratoga meet.

Lauren Byrd is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won the Jessamine three times (2002, ’04, ‘05), while Kathmanblu is trained by Ken McPeek, who has won the race twice (2003, ‘09).

Cloneylass, Come a Callin, Accept, and Dos Lunas also rate consideration in a deep cast.

Fourteen are entered in the Jessamine, although only as many as 12 can start. Three allowances (races 5, 6, 7) also will be run on a program that starts at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.