Stephanie's Kitten Scratches Out JF Turf Win
Stopshoppingmaria, with Javier Castellano up, set all the pace in the race for 2-year-old fillies with early splits of :24.57, :50.55, and 1:15.71 but was run down in deep stretch. She was chased by Sweet Cat with Royal Bonnie and Dayatthespa also close down the backstretch. Royal Bonnie, with Cornelio Velazquez up, made a sweeping move on the turn and Hard Not to Like came with a strong bid as they straightened away for home.
Stephanie's Kitten, racing in fifth early, split rivals past the three-sixteenth pole and found a seam a furlong from home. She quickened from there to catch Stopshoppingmaria and was inching away at the end.
“She was amazing," Velazquez said. "As soon as I asked her to go in between those other two horses, she responded right away. It's nice when you can ride horses like that. It makes it easy for us. She's game for anything I ask her to do."
Runner-up Stopshoppingmaria finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Sweet Cat.
“She ran very good. She gave me a great performance," Castellano said of Stopshoppingmaria, who was making her turf and two-turn debut. "I’m so happy the way she did it. I thought I was (home)."
Up finished fourth with Hard Not to Like fifth. Favored Elusive Kate ran eighth in the field of 14.
“The draw was not good for her (post 10)," said William Buick, who rode the European invader Elusive Kate. "She had trouble handling the ground. It was very loose, and she was skidding all over the place.”
The winner, who won the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) over Keeneland’s Polytrack Oct. 7, is out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose. She finished third in Woodbine’s Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT) on Sept. 19 prior to the Alcibiades. She now has a 3-0-2 slate from five starts with earnings of $817,526. The victory was worth $540,000.
"She ran such a big race at Keeneland (winning the Alcibiades) on the Polytrack, and I saw her run in the race at Woodbine, which was pretty fast, so I was confident that the distance and grass were going to help her," Velazquez said. "The ground was soft, and she handled it really well. She's very nice, professional and explosive."
Stephanie's Kitten paid $14.20, $6.60, and $5.20. Stopshoppingmaria returned $9.20 and $7.60, and Sweet Cat paid $9.40 to show.
She is trained by Wayne Catalano, who was winning his third Breeders' Cup race with a 2-year-old filly. He won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with Dreaming of Anna in 2006 and She Be Wild in 2009.
“I’m so happy for Mr. Ramsey," Catalano said. "He loves the game. And winning is the thing for him, it’s not even for the money."
Stephanie’s Kitten is named for one of the Ramseys' granddaughters.
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