Already with no shortage of Breeders' Cup possibilities, Ken and Sarah Ramsey found another World Championships entrant Oct. 6 when favored Bobby's Kitten rolled to a 6 1/4-length victory in the $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park (VIDEO).
The homebred 3-year-old son of Kitten's Joy ridden by Javier Castellano as the slight 9-5 choice in the nine-horse Pilgrim field, set right off the early pace of Marvin's Miracle as those two opened up by about five lengths on the rest of the field. The lead was unchanged as Marvin's Miracle and Bobby's Kitten raced six furlongs in a moderate 1:12.96 after earlier fractions of :24.70 and :48.13, with the latter roused to challenge rounding the far turn in the 1 1/16-mile turf test.
Bobby's Kitten continued his momentum, opening up daylight on the rest of the field as stablemate Shadow Banking kicked in late for place, a half-length in front of Team Valor International's Irish-bred Captain's Affair.
The final time of 1:42.37 did not threaten the inner turf course record of 1:39.38. With the victory, Bobby's Kitten has earned $185,500.
Bobby's Kitten, who broke his maiden in his second career start going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Saratoga Race Course previous to the Pilgrim, paid $5.70, $2.90, and $2.60. Shadow Banking returned $3.40 and $3, with Captain's Affair paying $8.30. They were followed by Due Diligence, Blue Pigeon, Sheldon, Marvin's Miracle, and Sandy Point.
Brown said Bobby's Kitten, named after his former boss, the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, displayed an ability to get close early and finish with a winning move last time out.
"Second time out, we learned (Bobby's Kitten) was capable of leaving early and finishing," said Brown, who like the Ramseys has no plenty of Breeders' Cup options. "He has speed and can carry it, which makes him dangerous. Javier (Castellano) came out and worked him the other day and really liked the horse and accepted the mount on him. He said, 'I want to go out. I'm not going to worry what anybody else is doing. I'm going to ride my race. I'm real confident.' He rode that way."
"I had a lot of confidence because I worked this horse in the morning, and I know how talented he is," Castellano said. "I was impressed with his maturity today and how he did it. He broke well out of the gate. He's a very straightforward horse and was very impressive today."
Brown said he was pleased with the performance of Shadow Banking, a son of Harlan's Holiday who rolled to victory over the same course and distance of the Pilgrim in his only previous start.
"I thought he did well," the trainer said. "Considering the short rest he was on. I prefer that 31-60 day window, especially with my grass horses—he was looking a little bouncy, but he was able to pull through a slow pace and still get up for second. Now I have a little bit more time for his third start."
Brown said his Pilgrim top two will be pointed toward the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park Nov. 1.
Bobby's Kitten, out of the Forestry mare Celestial Woods, helped provide Brown a sweep of the graded stakes on the Oct. 6 Belmont card as French import Testa Rossi took the Miss Grillo (gr. IIIT).