12/15/2011 1:37PM

Turfway: Maker has pair of Kittens


Mike Maker nominated such stalwarts as Baryshnikov, Stately Victor, and Twinspired to run Saturday night in the $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., but none will go. Instead, Maker will send out the uncoupled duo of Becky’s Kitten and William’s Kitten, both of them homebred 4-year-old sons of Kitten’s Joy owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Becky’s Kitten and William’s Kitten are both coming off defeats in claiming races but nonetheless look like major contenders in the Prairie Bayou, a 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race that goes as the ninth of 10 races on a Saturday card that begins at 5:30 p.m. Central.

While William’s Kitten has been with Maker from the outset of his racing career, Becky’s Kitten has taken a far more circuitous route in coming under his care.

A winner in 4 of 28 career starts, Becky’s Kitten was trained by Wesley Ward for the Ramseys in the start of his career before being claimed at Keeneland by Steve Asmussen in April 2010, then by Martin Drexler five months later at Woodbine.

“Mr. Ramsey just wanted him back,” said Maker, and so the gelding was re-claimed by Ramsey for $32,000 at Woodbine in September. “He’s trained real well for us. Both of them have, actually.”

William’s Kitten has not won in more than two years, although a two-back runner-up finish on the Polytrack at Keeneland suggests he might be ready to break that skein.

As for the balance of the sizable Prairie Bayou lineup, Mad Flatter clearly has the class to prevail at this level, having upset the highly regarded Mambo Meister at Calder two starts back in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck. But Mad Flatter, a Jeff Thornbury-trained 6-year-old, owns just one victory in six career starts over synthetics, so surface might be the primary question in his case.

Other viable possibilities include Proceed Bee, a Chicago shipper with a career bankroll of more than $600,000, and Plutonium, a speedy gray who wired a solid field of allowance milers two starts back at Churchill Downs.

The Prairie Bayou, named for the ill-fated gelding who won the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway on his way to capturing the Preakness in 1993, is the third of five $50,000 stakes at the holiday meet, which runs through Dec. 31. The 2012 winter-spring meet runs Jan. 1 to April 1.

Maker, whose 4 wins at the holiday meet led all trainers going into Thursday action, won the My Charmer at Turfway last Saturday with La Gran Bailadora.

◗ The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Wednesday approved a request by Turfway Park to lower its takeout for the pick four from 22 percent to 14 percent. Bob Elliston, the president of Turfway, said at the committee’s meeting that Turfway hoped to attract more interest for its signal in the simulcast market through the measure