Kenneth and Sara Ramsey's Precious Kitten grabbed the lead mid-stretch and held off a hard charging Meribel to upset the $200,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old fillies by a neck on the turf at Laurel Park Saturday.
Precious Kitten survived a claim of interference which was lodged by Ramon Dominguez, the rider of Meribel, before being declared the winner.
Erick Rodriguez steered the daughter of Catienus
to victory for trainer William Fox, assistant to Kentucky-based conditioner Dale Romans, currently serving a suspension.
The filly had never won a race on the grass, although she had finished second, third, and fifth in turf stakes this summer. She is the half-sister to Kitten's Joy, a $2 million earner and 2004 champion male turf horse.
She completed the 1-1/16 mile distance in 1:41.22 over the firm turf. Gasia, a graded stakes earner on dirt, rallied for third under Mario Pino, 2 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up Meribel.
Precious Kitten paid $20.40, $7.20, and $5, topping a $73.20 exacta with Meribel ($4, $2.80) and a $724 trifecta with Gasia ($4). She was part of an entry with Mambo With G, who led all the way into the far turn off fractions of :23 4/5, :47 2/5 and 1:11 2/5 before giving way to her stablemate.
"On the backside, I knew I had a lot of horse in my hands," said the 26-year-old Rodriguez after the most lucrative victory of his career. "Turning for home, I made my move and she really responded. I did feel Ramon coming, but my filly took over again. I had a lot of horse."
The $120,000 first place purse increased Precious Kitten's bankroll to $205,286. She had a maiden victory, three seconds, and a third-place finish in seven previous starts.
Amansara, the 7-5 favorite, faded in the stretch to finish fifth.