01/28/2010 1:00AM

Two keys point to Becky's Kitten


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - There are two handicapping angles that point to Becky's Kitten as the horse to beat in Friday's $48,000 allowance feature for 3-year-olds on the turf at Gulfstream Park.

The first is a no-brainer - the class drop from graded stakes races, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, down to an entry-level allowance condition. The second is a little less obvious, an angle called "first-time gelding."

Trainer Wesley Ward said he had Becky's Kitten gelded on Jan. 2, the day after he finished sixth over a yielding turf course in Calder's Tropical Park Derby.

"It poured right before the race, and it hurt me a little," Ward said of the Tropical Park Derby. "He was the only horse to really make a run in the race."

A son of Kitten's Joy, Becky's Kitten, won his maiden in his turf debut last summer at Saratoga, and closed out his 2-year-old campaign finishing second in Woodbine's Grade 3 Summer Stakes and ninth in the Breeders' Cup, all with Julien Leparoux riding.

"He really had no excuse on Breeders' Cup Day," said Ward. "Now I'm just trying to put him in a spot where he can win and try to get his confidence back. I've also got Julien back on him. This horse runs his eyeballs out for Julien."

Ward acknowledged that the first-level allowance test did not come up an easy spot. Among his eight rivals, if the race stays on the grass, will be the regally bred Drover, along with Trippo, On Vacation, and Flatter This.

Drover, a Storm Cat half-brother to Ashado and the Grade 2 grass winner Sunriver, may prove the one to catch. Drover led all the way to win his maiden over Belmont Park's main track before winding up his 2-year-old season finishing fourth after setting the pace over soft turf at Aqueduct on Nov. 22.

Trippo, who finished a nose and a neck in front of Drover in his 2-year-old finale, steadied early and never recovered when he finished far behind Becky's Kitten in the Tropical Park Derby.

On Vacation, a tiring fifth making his 3-year-old debut here on Jan. 13, defeated Barbaro's baby brother Lentenor in earning his diploma last fall at Aqueduct. Lentenor was an impressive maiden winner here earlier in the meet.

Flatter This could be a sleeper after finishing a troubled second behind the odds-on Thunder Brew in his turf debut last month at Tampa.