• Coronel hoping 'Marvin' continues progress in G3 Pilgrim
• Donk shooting for the moon with Selenite in G3 Miss Grillo
• Bush counting on Morethanawarning to fire best shot in Miss Grillo
• Teen Pauline to remain on the turf for the Pebbles
• Boisterous aiming for third straight G3 Knickerbocker victory; Samitar looks to remain unbeaten at Belmont in G3 Athenia; 3-year-old fillies to compete in Pebbles
"We call him 'The Franchise,'" said Ken Ramsey, who owns Ramsey Farm and campaigns many of Kitten's Joy's progeny, including Admiral Kitten, who is part of coupled entry that was installed as the 7-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Jamaica Handicap for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.
Kitten's Joy won seven graded stakes for the Ramseys during his career, including the 2004 Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont. He has sired five Grade 1 winners this year and is ranked second on the North American sires list by stakes winners (18), stakes wins (24), and earnings (more than $8.9 million).
Last Saturday, Big Blue Kitten, also owned by the Ramseys, came up a nose shy of emulating his sire when he was second in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. The Ramseys will try again this Saturday with Admiral Kitten, who enters the Jamaica off a win in the Grade 1 Secretariat, a race Kitten's Joy won in 2004.
Prior to the Secretariat, Admiral Kitten had finished second in four straight races, three in graded stakes.
"We're delighted he finally won a stakes race, and it happened to be in a Grade 1," said Ramsey. "He had been knocking on the door, but these come-from-behind horses have to deal with traffic. Many of these turf races come down to whoever gets the trip."
Admiral Kitten rallied from 10th to win the Secretariat, and to ensure a quick tempo for the stretch runner Ramsey also entered front runner Get in Line in the Jamaica.
"In some of those races, there wasn't any pace," said Ramsey. "His entry-mate should ensure a fast pace, so we hope he can close into some fast fractions."
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Along with the Christophe Clement-trained Blue Pigeon, Marvin's Miracle is one of two New York-breds in Sunday's Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim, a "Win and You're In" race leading into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Purchased for $62,000 by Bacon Barn last summer at the Saratoga sales, the Cosmonaut colt was second against open company in his debut on July 5 at Belmont Park, and finished gamely to break his maiden against state-breds on August 8 at Saratoga.
Just three weeks later, trainer Manny Coronel sent Marvin's Miracle into the Grade 2 With Anticipation and the colt ran well for third, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Bashart, despite the quick turnaround.
"I thought he ran a good race to finish third in the Grade 2, and I think he'll run even better this time because he's had more time between races," said Coronel of Marvin's Miracle, who is 6-1 on the morning line for the 1 1 /16-mile Pilgrim. "He only had 20 days between races then and it took him a few days to recover fully, but now he's had plenty of time to recover 100 percent."
Marvin's Miracle has had three published works since the With Anticipation, most recently breezing a half-mile on Belmont's training track on Sunday in a bullet 48.16 seconds.
"I think he has a chance to be there," said Coronel. "I'm very excited to run him and I'm confident he'll run a huge race."
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A 20-1 outsider in Sunday's Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo is William Punk, Jr. and Phili DeLeo's Selenite, who broke her maiden at second asking on September 19 at Belmont facing New York-breds going a mile.
A daughter of Cosmonaut, who is named for a mineral named for the ancient Greek word for the moon, Selenite had finished third in her debut going 5 ½ furlongs at Saratoga.
"She's a really kind filly and she's done everything the right way," said trainer David Donk, who won the 2000 edition of the Miss Grillo with Ruff. "Her maiden was in state-bred company, but I don't really have many options with her this time of year."
Selenite had her final breeze for the 1 1/16-mile Miss Grillo on Tuesday, covering a half-mile over Belmont's training track in 48.25.
"She breezed well the other day; there's more reasons to run than not to run," said Donk.
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Given that Morethanawarning is a granddaughter of 1983 Belmont Stakes winner Caveat out of Catch a Warning, whose two career victories came at 1 3/8 and 1 1/16 miles on the turf, it's not surprising that she would relish a distance of ground. The filly lived up to those expectations in her second start when she came from eighth off slow early fractions of 25.05 and 50.41 to prevail by three-quarters of a length going 1 1/16 miles on September 13 at Belmont.
"I was actually pretty torn about whether or not to run her long first time out," said trainer Tom Bush of Morethanawarning, who was third in a 5 ½-furlong maiden at Saratoga in her debut. "I knew she wanted more ground, but she's not a big, robust, heavy filly and I was worried about getting to the bottom of her first time. I thought it was best to sprint her, and who knows whether it was the right thing to do. She had a very light work 23 days between races, and she didn't get tired that's for sure. I think the race probably helped her a little bit, conditioning-wise, and clearly the filly is bred for distance. We're hoping that's going to pay off."
Sunday, Morethanawarning is 10-1 in the 12-horse field (11 betting interests) for the 1 1/16-mile Miss Grillo, and Bush is confident the filly will continue her forward progress.
"She was pretty difficult early in the summer," said Bush. "We had a hard time keeping her settled. She was a little too anxious the first part of her works; she kept wanting to do too much. It took us a good long time to talk her out of that, but she's coming around really well. She even had to be talked a little bit out of it by Cornelio [Velasquez] when she ran [last time out]; the slow pace compounded that, but I don't think we'll have to worry about that in this race."
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Teen Pauline, third in the 2012 Grade 1 Spinaway, has been given a new lease on life as a turf horse and will aim for her first stakes victory in the $100,000 Pebbles for 3-year-old fillies on October 14 at Belmont Park.
After Teen Pauline made two starts for trainer Steve Asmussen as a 2-year-old, owner Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables transferred the daughter of Tapit to Todd Pletcher. She began her 3-year-old season by finishing fourth in a pair of dirt races in June at Belmont - an optional claimer and the Grade 3 Victory Ride - before she made her turf debut in an allowance race on August 11 at Saratoga. She won that race by one length, then was second to Midnight Watch in the Riskaverse on the grass on August 30 at the Spa.
"We were just a little frustrated with the results we were getting on the dirt," said Pletcher. "We felt like her action indicated to us it might be worth giving her a shot on the turf. We breezed her on the turf and we liked what we saw, and there we went."
Although Teen Pauline has raced in second during the early stages of her two turf starts, Pletcher said he is content with the way she has settled, considering how she began her career in sprints on the dirt.
"One of the things that surprised us is how, for a filly who ran as fast as she did first time out, she wasn't demonstrating a ton of gate speed," said Pletcher. "We stretched her out on the turf, hoping she wouldn't be too sharp or too keen. She has been cooperative in that regard, and, hopefully, she continues to develop."
Pletcher seeks his third win in the Pebbles, having taken it last year with Peace Preserver and in 2009 with Miss Catalyst.
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Belmont will offer three stakes on the turf during the three-day Columbus Day weekend, and Saturday's card will feature a pair of 1 1/16-mile graded stakes worth $200,000.
Boisterous, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for Phipps Stable, will attempt to become the first three-time winner of the Grade 3 Knickerbocker. He has won six of 10 starts on the turf at Belmont, including the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Knickerbocker and the 2013 Grade 1 Man o' War. Also probable for the race are Grand Arch, London Lane, Mr. Commons, Tetradrachm, and Za Approval, according NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes. Bombaguia, Plainview, Royal Bench, and Sky Blazer are possible.
Martin S. Schwartz's Samitar, 2-for-2 on the grass at Belmont, heads a group of fillies and mares who are probable for the Grade 3 Athenia. Trained by Chad Brown, Samitar won the 2012 Grade 1 Garden City and 2013 restricted Fairy Garden at Belmont and enters the Athenia off a victory in the restricted Speed Boat at Saratoga. She's slated to face Abaco, Assateague, Embarr, My Perfect Ten, and Naples Bay. Effie Trinket and Pianist are possible.
Belmont will be open on Monday, October 14, for Columbus Day, and the featured race that day will be the $100,000 Pebbles for 3-year-old fillies. In addition to Teen Pauline, the one-mile race is expected to attract Cat's Holiday, Dauphine Russe, Frege, Mariel N Kathy, Maximova, Neat Package, Tapicat, and With Sugar On Top. Effie Trinket also is under consideration for the Pebbles.