Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy, the Eclipse Award winner as America's outstanding turf star in 2004, returned to serious training Thursday with a work over Churchill Downs' Matt Winn Turf Course.
The 4-year-old son of El Prado breezed four furlongs around the dogs on "firm" turf in :51. The move under exercise rider Faustino Orantes was the first significant work by the Dale Romans-trained colt since his runner-up finish to Better Talk Now in the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (Grade I) at Lone Star Park.
It was good to see him back breezing on the turf," said Romans. "He went real good. He did it well, he hit the ground good and he came back good."
With that work finally under the belt of Kitten's Joy, Romans is mapping out a racing schedule for the champion that would start with a run in the $250,000-added Firecracker Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs on July 4.
Kitten's Joy is getting a belated start on his 4-year-old campaign after the colt underwent surgery following the Breeders' Cup Turf to remove chips from his left knee. He had returned to training earlier in the year at Gulfstream Park, but the colt's progress was halted when Romans' barn was placed under quarantine because of cases of strangles at the Florida track.Romans said a 2005 debut in the Firecracker fits well with the colt's first major objective of the year: the Arlington Million (gr. IT) at Arlington Park on Aug. 13. If all goes well in those first two starts, a trip to France's Longchamp for the Grand Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) on Oct. 2. His trainer is excited about the possibilities for Kitten's Joy, despite the late start on the campaign.
"He's very sound right now and Faustino said he felt every bit as good as he did last year," Romans said. "There's plenty of good racing from July 4 to the end of the year."Kitten's Joy has a career record of 8-3-0 in 12 races with earnings of $1,705,911.During his championship campaign, Kitten's Joy had six wins over six different turf courses, including victories in the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) at Calder, the Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, the Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs, the Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs, the Secretariat (gr. IT) at Arlington Park, and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. Last year's six victories came in eight races, with his only setbacks being runner-up finishes in the Breeders' Cup Turf and in Churchill Downs' Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT), which was won by Prince Arch.