Derby Kitten, under jockey Mike Smith, came from off the pace to nab Hippolytus by a half-length in the $154,029 Ontario Derby Sept. 24 at Woodbine (VIDEO) .
The son of Kitten's Joy settled in seventh in the field of eight 3-year-olds and was full of run when asked by Smith for his best while four wide on the final turn. Derby Kitten swept past Queen's Plate runner-up Hippolytus, who had rallied from sixth to get the lead at mid-stretch, and Moonshine Mullin, who was second in the Jim Dandy (gr. I) at Saratoga. The winning time was 1:50.32 for the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack distance.
Hippolytus, ridden by Patrick Husbands, finished a neck in front of 3-2 favorite Moonshine Mullins and Emma-Jayne Wilson for second.
Kentucky's Ken and Sarah Ramsey bred and own Derby Kitten, who is trained by the red-hot Mike Maker. Maker won five races at Turfway Park Sept. 24, including three stakes on the Kentucky Cup program.
Silverleo, off at 68-1, set a moderate pace hitting the quarter in :24.90 and a half in :49.45 as Bowman's Causeway kept close watch, with Moonshine Mullin in third position along the rail. Bowman's Causeway was given his cue going into the far turn while Derby Kitten, sitting last, not more than six lengths off the leader, also began to pick off horses one-by-one along the rail.
Bowman's Causeway assumed the lead from Silverleo at the top of the stretch and a battle ensued with Hippolytus, to his outside, and Moonshine Mullin, on the rail. Hippolytus shook clear of his competitors in the final 70 yards, but could not hold off a fast-closing Derby Kitten, who angled out for room in the stretch and finished smartly for Smith.
Smith expected a good first effort over Woodbine's Polytrack from Derby Kitten, who was much closer to the pace on this afternoon than in his two most recent efforts on turf. The colt won the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in his only prior try on Polytrack.
"His only race on Poly was pretty impressive when he won the Lexington," said Smith. "He actually probably laid closer (that day) than he ever had, and I was hoping he would do the same today and he did. Warming up, he was a bit hot, on the warm side, so we just walked him and jogged him lightly. Once the doors opened, he put me right in the race and it was just a matter of finding a place to go."
Derby Kitten followed his win in the Lexington with a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Out of the Menifee mare Blush, his third lifetime win in 14 starts was worth $87,516 and boosted his career total to $304,749.
Derby Kitten returned $9, $5.50, $2.90, combining with Hippolytus ($4.90, $3) for a $47 exacta. Moonshine Mullin ($2.40) rounded out a $114.20 trifecta.
Bowman's Causeway, Oh Canada, Nanaimo, Silverleo, and Alpha Bettor completed the order. Pender Harbour scratched.