Odds-on choice Charming Kitten, a son of Kitten's Joy , won the $100,000 Kitten's Joy Stakes (VIDEO) for 3-year-olds on the turf at Gulfstream Park Jan. 20.
Ken Ramsey took extra pride in the win since he and his wife, Sarah, bred and race Charming Kitten and also bred and raced his sire, the 2004 Eclipse Award champion turf star.
"I'm overjoyed," exclaimed Ramsey when asked how it felt to win the Kitten's Joy with a Kitten's Joy. It was the first stakes win for Charming Kitten.
The 7-10 favorite in the field of eight sophomores at 1 1/16 miles, Charming Kitten overcame a bumping incident in the stretch to win by a length over Bambazonki in a time of 1:43.43 over firm ground. The dark bay or brown colt, out of the Wild Again mare Iteration, showed himself to be yet another offspring of Kitten's Joy with a special blend of toughness and talent.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Charming Kitten appeared to be on his way to a dream trip when jockey John Velazquez positioned him in third behind dueling pacesetters Redwood Kitten (one of three sons of Kitten's Joy in the race) and Prado Cat on the backstretch. Redwood Kitten, along the inside, maintained a slight edge to the quarter pole while carving even splits of :24.09, :48.19, and 1:12.60.
After moving to the lead leaving the far turn, Charming Kitten was joined on the outside by Bambazonki, who leaned in and bumped the favorite at the top of the stretch. Despite the efforts of jockey Jose Lezcano, Bambazonki continued to try to lean in on his foe as Charming Kitten responded to Velazquez's urging in the final furlong to edge away to victory.
"He put up a good fight and made it easy for me," said Velazquez, who rode four winners on Sunday's card.
Bambazonki finished second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of 42-1 Redwood Kitten and jockey Elvis Trujillo.
Charming Kitten narrowly lost in the Dania's Beach at Gulfstream after a wide trip Dec. 15.
"(Bambazonki) kind of leaned in and gave us a little bump at the top of the stretch and kind of knocked us sideways, but we were able to regroup," said Pletcher, who saddled three winners Sunday. "I think this colt is continuing to improve and is putting things together. He's figuring the game out."
Charming Kitten earned $60,000 for his second victory from five starts and has now banked $152,000. He paid $3.40, $2.40, $2.20, topping a $17.60 exacta with Bambazonki, who returned $4.20 and $3.40. The show payoff on Redwood Kitten was $9.60.
"It's been a real joy. (Kitten's Joy) has been doing well on the farm. He had a big book of mares last year, and they're responding well this year," Ken Ramsey said. "We're taking care of him and expect to have him around for another 15 years."
Charming Kitten is expected to race next at Gulfstream.
"I guess we'll stay here and look at the next stake (grade III Palm Beach March 3) and try to keep doing more of the same," Pletcher said.