Saving ground along the rail in third as Medolina led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.62 seconds, a half in 48.88 and three-quarters in 1:13.25, Stephanie’s Kitten was ready to pounce but had nowhere to go as the field of six 3-year-old turf fillies barreled down the lane. Patiently waiting behind horses, Velazquez finally spotted an opportunity inside the eighth pole and guided the Kitten’s Joy filly to the outside, where she kicked into high gear en route to the win.
“When I asked, she responded right away,” said Velazquez. “It was a great effort by her and an incredible last eighth. I know she has it in her, and as soon as I pulled her out and hit her with the whip she responded right away, so I was very impressed at the way she did it.”
It was the second victory in four 2012 starts for Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred filly, who was fourth, beaten just a half-length by Centre Court, after encountering traffic problems in the Grade 2 Lake George on July 25.
“I was a little more cautious about it today; last time the spot was there and I gunned into the spot without any hesitation,” said Velazquez. “Today, I took my time and said, ‘Let me see where I’m going to go. Am I going to go between them, or go around them little by little until I know where I am going?’ Once I got her out, she responded right away. The extra distance wasn’t a concern.”
Centre Court was three-quarters of a length ahead of Somali Lemonade, with Medolina, Better Lucky, and Disposablepleasure completing the order of finish.
“My filly ran the whole way and she kicked home; she just got outrun,” said Rusty Arnold, trainer of the runner-up. “It was a very nice race. I’m thrilled to death with her. You never want to get beat, but we’re thrilled.”
Stephanie’s Kitten returned $4.20 for a $2 win bet and became a millionaire with the winner’s purse of $120,000, having now earned $1,104,082. Overall, she is 5-0-3 from nine starts, including victories in the Edgewood in May at Churchill Downs and last year’s Grade 1 Alcibiades and Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Next up for Stephanie’s Kitten likely will be the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 13 at Keeneland Race Course, followed by the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on November 2-3, said winning trainer Wayne Catalano.
“We mapped out a little plan; hopefully it all works out,” he said.