Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stephanie's Kitten blossoms in G1 Flower Bowl

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Stephanie's Kitten blossoms in G1 Flower Bowl


By Sean Morris


ELMONT, N.Y. - Favored Stephanie's Kitten earned her first victory of the year with a facile score in the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl for fillies and mares on the inner turf course on TVG Super Saturday at Belmont Park.


Trained by Chad Brown for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Stephanie's Kitten put forth strong efforts in both the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga Race Course and Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park in her two starts immediately prior to the Flower Bowl, but had to settle for second in each after running out of ground in the stretch.


On Saturday, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez made sure Stephanie's Kitten wouldn't be denied a third time. The rider put his mount into the game early, as she tracked a moderate early pace of 24.73 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 50.28 for the half, and 1:14.62 for three-quarters.


Within striking range turning for home, Velazquez shifted Stephanie's Kitten into the clear for the stretch run, and the 5-year-old Kitten's Joy mare cruised by the frontrunners en route to a comfortable 1 ¼-length victory.


"It doesn't get any better than that," said Velazquez. "We broke well enough, and I wanted to make sure I got a nice position going into the first turn. Once we got that, I was pretty pleased with where I was and kind of bided my time. When I asked her, she responded right away, and made me look really good."


The Flower Bowl is a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which is most likely Stephanie's Kitten's next start, according to Brown.


"Absolutely [we're going to the Breeders' Cup]," said Brown, who also sent out Watsdachances to a fourth-place finish and Alterite to a seventh-place finish in the Flower Bowl. "We've been working backwards from the Filly & Mare Turf, and believed this filly could get there all year as one of the horses to beat."


Stephanie's Kitten, who last year when the Grade 1 Just a Game and Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile, completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.15 and returned $4.40 on a $2 win wager. Her career earnings now stand at a robust $2,274,104.


The Shug McGaughey-trained Abaco closed well to earn runner-up honors, finishing a neck in front of pacesetter Viva Rafaela.


Watsdachances, Starstruck, Tannery, Alterite and Strathnaver completed the order of finish.




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