Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred colt Becky's Kitten, who has never before raced at 1 1/8 miles, will attempt to follow in the footsteps of his sire, Kitten's Joy , with a win in the Jan. 1 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course. Kitten’s Joy kicked off his championship campaign with a victory in the same race six years ago.
The Tropical Park Derby, which was also won by 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) victor Barbaro, is the only graded stakes race in the country on New Year’s Day. The race, which is the 10th on the card, is slated for 4:17 p.m. EST.
“My farm manager Mark Partridge said (Becky’s Kitten) is training well, and we expect a good run out of him,” said Ken Ramsey, who will travel to Florida to watch the colt compete in the New Year’s Day race.
Becky’s Kitten, who broke his maiden at Saratoga in August after three defeats, posted a solid runner-up effort in his stakes debut, the Sept. 19 Summer Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Woodbine. It was then decided that he was ready to contest the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park.
Becky’s Kitten faded to be a distant ninth in that race, however, which Ramsey said was due in part to a bleeding condition. “He bled just a little bit, but since then, he hasn’t bled in any of his workouts,” he explained. “He’ll be running on Lasix (an anti-bleeding medication) in the Tropical Park Derby.”
Trained by Wesley Ward, the colt will be ridden for the first time by Elvis Trujillo after being piloted in his last three starts by Julien Leparoux. The pair will break from the outside post.
Michael Bruder and Frank Jones Jr.’s Lost Aptitude, who impressively won the Grand Canyon Handicap on turf at Churchill Downs last out Nov. 28, figures to be another one of the favorites in the Tropical Park Derby.
Regular rider Jon Court will be in the irons for trainer Dale Romans. Lost Aptitude will enter the race with a record of three wins from five starts, all on turf.
A Calder-developed contender that will get plenty of support is Gilbert Campbell’s homebred Fly by Phil with Eduardo Nunez to ride for trainer Kathleen O’Connell. The son of Act of Duty will make his turf debut after winning his last two starts around two turns on the main track by 10 3/4 and 2 1/2 lengths, respectively.
Two other Calder home team runners with a chance are Michael Sucher’s Our Champion and William Sims’ Gator Tiger, one-two last out separated by a neck in an allowance race over the course Nov. 29. Eibar Coa rides Our Champion for trainer Dave Braddy and Manoel Cruz takes a return call on Gator Tiger.
Completing the field for the 35th edition of the Tropical Park Derby are winning stakes-placed Bernie the Maestro and Cat Park; Calder allowance winner Sunrise Nursery; maiden winners Three Deadly Sins, Forty Nine Acres, and Trippo; and King Prada.
$100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. III, Race 10, 4:17 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 MIles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Gator Tiger (FL), M R Cruz, 115, J C Catanese III, 12/1
2. Bernie the Maestro (FL), P Lopez, 117, M W Wolfson, 12/1
3. Lost Aptitude (KY), J K Court, 119, D L Romans, 5/2
4. Fly by Phil (FL), E O Nunez, 117, K O'Connell, 6/1
5. Sunrise Nursery (KY), R Maragh, 117, J Pinchin, 12/1
6. Our Champion (KY), E Coa, 117, J D Braddy, 10/1
7. King Prada (KY), C H Marquez, Jr., 115, T Ritvo, 30/1
8. Cat Park (PA), J R Leparoux, 117, H G Motion, 6/1
9. Three Deadly Sins (FL), L Jurado, 115, J Pinchin, 20/1
10. Forty Nine Acres (FL), L Saez, 115, W A Kaplan, 20/1
11. Trippo (FL), C H Velasquez, 117, F A Alexander, 8/1
12. Becky's Kitten (KY), E Trujillo, 117, W A Ward, 4/1