Precious Kitten Claws Out Another Win in Palomar

Precious Kitten Claws Out Another Win in Palomar
Photo: Benoit
Palomar 'Cap gives Precious Kitten second win of Del Mar meet.
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Most of the intrigue surrounding the $222,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) Sept. 1 involved which of two outstanding fillies trainer Bobby Frankel would scratch, Price Tag or Precious Kitten. Once he withdrew Juddmonte's Price Tag, Precious Kitten, with a grade I victory over the Del Mar turf already at the meet, became a prohibitive favorite.

She did not disappoint at odds of 1-2, breaking sharply to gain the lead and taking the field all the way. With Julien Leparoux in the irons for the first time, Precious Kitten registered victory by three-quarters of a length over the up-and-coming Black Mamba. The time was a solid 1:40 2/5 for the 1 1/16-mile distance, four-fifths of a second off the turf course mark.

Owned by her breeders, Sarah and Kenneth Ramsey, the 4-year-old homebred filly by Catienus--Kitten's First (Lear Fan) went over the $1 million in career earnings. This was the eighth Palomar victory for Frankel, who last won it with Juddmonte Farms' Intercontinental in 2005. Frankel registered his 70th stakes win at Del Mar.

Leparoux was initially named on Price Tag but said he learned at about 10 a.m. by phone from Frankel that he would be riding Precious Kitten instead, replacing Isaas Enriquez.

"Bobby told me to just let her break and see what happens," Leparoux said. "She broke like she was going six furlongs but fortunately she relaxed. She was much the best today."

Precious Kitten clicked off fractions of :23 4/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 as the Brazilian-bred Branca Como Neve kept the pressure on. Leparoux showed Precious Kitten the whip in upper stretch as Kris' Sis and Black Mamba began to close in, but he hardly touched her through the lane. Precious Kitten carried top weight of 122 pounds.

The New Zealand-bred Black Mamba, an impressive allowance winner in her U.S. debut for trainer John Sadler one month ago, closed well while three-wide for jockey Tyler Baze. But they ran out of room before seriously challenging the winner.

"She came smoking," Baze said. "She was really running. She's a terrific filly. In fact, I'd say she's the best filly I've ever been on. If we had more pace to run at, it might have been different at the end."

Black Mamba received 10 pounds from Precious Kitten while finishing one length in front of a willing Kris' Sis for third.

Michael Baze rode Kris' Sis for trainer Julio Canani.

Precious Kitten was actually cutting back in distance for the Palomar from the nine-furlong John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT). That was her first grade I win, which came on the Del Mar turf Aug. 4. In that race, she stalked a sharp pace set by Dancing Edie before blowing past en route to a game 1 1/2-length triumph.

"Bobby called me and asked me how the two fillies were doing and I said they were doing good," said Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's West Coast assistant. "Then he decided which one should run. I guess he thought it was best to run Precious Kitten."

With three wins and three seconds from six tries in 2007 and earnings of $710,000, Precious Kitten, a half-sister to turf champion Kitten's Joy, has been remarkably productive since moving to Frankel from the barn of Dale Romans. Overall, she owns a career mark of 6-7-1 in 16 starts while banking $1,039,688.

She paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10. Black Mamba returned $4.40 and $3.40. Kris' Sis was $3.20 to show.

It was more than two lengths to Clinet in fourth, followed by Dream's, Shermeen, Branca Como Neve, Andrea and I Can See.

(Chart, Equibase)

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