(Originally from the July 13, 2013 issue of The Blood-Horse)
by Anne Peters
One could attribute the success of Kitten's Joy as a sire to the many savvy breeders who stepped out of their comfort zone to use a turf stayer, but that would be wrong. On the contrary, his rise to power is due to the almost exclusive support of his breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Kitten’s Joy is the sire of 38 stakes winners, and 36 have been bred by the Ramseys. So far in 2013 Kitten’s Joy has 12 stakes winners led by graded stakes winners Stephanie's Kitten (gr. IT), Kitten's Dumplings (gr. IIIT), Kitten's Point (gr. IIIT), and Csaba (gr. III). All but Kitten's Point, bred by George Strawbridge, are products of the Ramseys’ program.
Kitten’s Joy was sired by the Irish-bred El Prado, co-champion at 2 in Ireland with St. Jovite, and the first son of Sadler's Wells to retire to stud in North America. El Prado was largely overlooked his first few years in Kentucky, probably because he was a European grass horse, until his offspring proved they could run on dirt as well as on turf. He leaped to prominence when Medaglia d'Oro won the 2002 Travers Stakes (gr. I), but El Prado was already familiar to the Ramseys. In 2000 they bred their mare Kitten’s First to him to get a chestnut colt the following May, whom they named Kitten’s Joy.
Kitten’s First was by Roberto’s good miler son Lear Fan, and out of That's My Hon, also the dam of turf star Down the Aisle, by Runaway Groom. That’s My Hon was by the Canadian champion L'Enjoleur and her dam, One Lane, was byPrince John out of Danger Ahead. It was a solid Elmendorf Farm family, and Danger Ahead was also the third dam of the near Triple Crown winner Spectacular Bid.
Kitten’s First was a winner at 2 but fractured her hip. Saved as a broodmare, she proved a blue hen for the Ramseys. Her first foal was the stakes winnerJustenuffheart, by Broad Brush, dam of the champion filly Dreaming of Anna and her full brother Lewis Michael , byRahy; and the grade II turf winner Justenuff- humor, by Distorted Humor.
The mare had a history of difficult births, and Kitten’s Joy, her fourth foal, was delivered by Cesarean section. Her fifth foal and third stakes winner was the grade I-winning filly Precious Kitten (by the Ramseys’ Catienus). Another daughter, unraced Striking Image, by Red Ransom, is the dam of stakes winner Self Made Man, by Catienus.
Trained by Dale Romans, Kitten’s Joy won nine of 14 starts and earned $2,075,791. At 3 he was named champion turf male of 2004 off wins in the 10-furlong Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT), having run second in the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT).
Successful from a mile to 12 furlongs on both firm and soft turf, Kitten’s Joy grew into a big, robust, handsome horse, but that grass foot was not what commercial breeders wanted. This didn’t deter Ken Ramsey, who was prepared to breed as many kittens as it took to make his champion a top sire, which didn’t take very long. In 2009 the first 2-year-olds started popping up all over. By year’s end Kitten’s Joy had 19 winners with five stakes winners—two on dirt.
It’s now 2013, and Kitten’s Joy is still on a roll. Yes, he tends to get turf runners, but his top earner, Stephanie’s Kitten, is a grade I winner on both Polytrack and turf. He’s got six other stakes winners on synthetics, and nine on dirt, including multiple grade III winner Csaba.
Stephanie’s Kitten is out of a mare by Catienus (by Storm Cat), with her second dam by Red Ransom, so she’s bred similarly to Self Made Man. While Storm Cat-line mares have produced six of Kitten’s Joy’s stakes winners, some credit should go to Red Ransom’s sire Roberto, who is inbred 4x4 in Stephanie’s Kitten. In fact, 10 of Kitten’s Joy’s stakes winners are inbred to Roberto, including three from Roberto-line mares.
Roberto’s sire Hail to Reason has an even wider influence with the Kitten, who has five stakes winners out of Halo-line mares, including three out of mares by Saint Ballado. Two others are out of the same mare who is herself inbred to Halo. Hail to Reason may be working because Kitten’s Joy has three crosses of Hail to Reason’s sire Turn-to, one through Roberto, and the others through El Prado, with lines back to Bold Reason and Sir Gaylord.
Kitten’s Joy has worked with other good things, including Mr. Prospector, who appears in the dams of 19 of his stakes winners, nine from that male line. Forty Niner is found in the dams of both Dean's Kitten (gr. II) and Banned (gr. IIT), two of his top earners.
Kitten’s Joy’s success will continue, and the Ramseys won’t be the only ones supporting him.