Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy drew away from favored Artie Schiller in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the $500,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs on Saturday.
The win was jockey Edgar Prado's third straight in the Virginia Derby. Kitten's Joy ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.22 on a firm turf course, shading 23 seconds for the final quarter mile.
Kitten's Joy was taken well off the early pace by Prado and enjoyed a ground saving trip around the first turn. Jane's Luck sprinted away to set a brisk early pace, leading by 3 1/2 lengths after an opening quarter in :23.50, extended to an eight-length lead through a half in :47.30.
Artie Schiller made the first move, swinging two wide around the far turn. Prado immediately took Kitten's Joy off the fence to follow Artie Schiller. Jane's Luck began to back up and the two favorites engulfed him leaving the far turn. Artie Schiller took a short lead from Kitten's Joy as they straightened for home.
Kitten's Joy began to drift out but Prado was able to keep the El Prado
colt on a relatively straight course as they dueled with Artie Schiller. Kitten's Joy could not shake a very game Artie Schiller until the final sixteenth when Kitten's Joy found another gear and drew off to win by more than two lengths. Prince Arch closed belatedly for third, 7 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
The Virginia Derby was Kitten's Joy fourth grade III win of the year. The Dale Romans trainee is now six for seven on the turf and has earned $615,911 in a nine race career. Roman's indicated that Kitten's Joy's next target will be the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park on August 14.
Prado also won the All Along Breeders' Cup (Gr. IIIT) on Saturday with favored Film Maker. The leading rider at Colonial Downs in 1997 and 1998, Prado won the 2002 Virginia Derby with Orchard Park and the 2003 edition with Silver Tree.