A drop from grade I competition paid off for Emotional Kitten, who came roaring down the stretch to sweep past outsider Effie Trinket and win the $205,100 Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies the night of Nov. 16 (VIDEO).
Victor Espinoza came in from California to ride Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Emotional Kitten for trainer Wesley Ward and gave the daughter of Kitten's Joy a superb ride on the Churchill Downs turf. The Pennsylvania-bred Emotional Kitten, who graduated in $75,000 claiming company last December at Gulfstream Park, registered her first graded stakes win.
Racing near the rear of the pack while saving ground through the final turn, Espinoza was forced to steady at the three-eighths pole but found room in the packed 14-horse field to angle Emotional Kitten to the outside for clear sailing in the drive. From there, the question was whether she would have enough room to catch New York shipper Effie Trinket, who had opened up a clear advantage at mid-stretch.
Emotional Kitten, sent off at odds of 9-2, was still sixth near mid-stretch but lengthened stride to overcome Effie Trinket in the final yards. She was in control at the wire by half a length. Final time for the 1 1/16-mile distance over good ground was 1:44.53.
"She struggled a little bit because the turf was a bit soft," Espinoza said. "She was not real comfortable. I had to grab her and put her in the bridle. She was a little further back than I wanted, but I was more worried about her finding her stride. I didn't want to force it to get her closer to the pace.
"The last half-mile she grabbed the bridle and started coming. For a minute I thought I was going to finish second but as we got closer and to the last sixteenth (of a mile) I knew I'd get there at little bit before the wire."
Effie Trinket, a 12-1 shot with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over 54-1 Canadian invader Dance Again and Patrick Husbands.
The late-running Emotional Kitten was coming off a seventh-place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) Oct. 12 on the Keeneland turf, a race in which she closed much ground to finish three lengths behind the Ramseys' Kitten's Dumplings.
Espinoza had gotten to know the leggy chestnut filly in California in her two starts before that, both solid efforts in grade I events this summer. Emotional Kitten was second in the American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park, just half a length behind Emollient, then ran third in the Del Mar Oaks, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Discreet Marq, prior to the QE II Cup.
I'm Already Sexy was sent off the 3-1 favorite in the Mrs. Revere but weakened in the stretch to finish ninth.
Zero Game got the early lead from Quality Kitten and opened a comfortable advantage while slowing the tempo through quarter mile fractions :23.56, :48.53, and 1:13.17. I'm Already Sexy, with Florent Geroux riding, and Nellie Cashman were in good stalking position right behind them as Emotional Kitten, breaking from the rail, quickly fell back.
I'm Already Sexy took a narrow advantage in the stretch but could not withstand the pressure from Effie Trinket, who raced mid-pack toward the inside before angling out for the drive and taking command. But the New York-bred daughter of Freud , a three-time stakes winner at Belmont Park this year, came up just short as the hard-charging Emotional Kitten stole the victory with a fast closing final sixteenth.
"She ran big and she tried hard; she tried all the way," said Bridgmohan of Effie Trinket, who was making her first start outside New York. "I could feel (Emotional Kitten) coming, but she just ran me down."
Winner of the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on during Preakness weekend May 17, Emotional Kitten collected her fourth win from 14 lifetime starts. Out of the Ramseys' stakes-winning Ghazi mare Silent Emotion, she boosted her career bankroll to $357,533.
Emotional Kitten gave the Ramseys their 31st stakes win on the year and second Mrs. Revere triumph. The couple won the race in 2006 with Precious Kitten, who was trained by the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Emotional Kitten paid $11.80, $6.20, and $5.20 as the third choice in the large field. Effie Trinket, from the Rick Violette Jr. stable, returned $11.20 and $7.60 in a game effort. The exacta was worth $144.40. Dance Again, coming off a win in the restricted Carotene Stakes at Woodbine for trainer Malcolm Pierce, also closed well for third and paid $21.
Another deep closer, Praia, nosed Tapicat for fourth. They were followed by Nellie Cashman, Frivolous, Keening, I'm Already Sexy, Quality Kitten, Allegheny Angel, E B Ryder, Remember Then, and Zero Game.