If there’s a major turf stakes, there’s a good chance you’re going to find a kitten or two in the starting field, and an even better chance they’ll be owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the owners and caretakers of the kennel where Kitten's Joy reigns supreme, churning out one stakes winner after another.
In the $200,000 Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park March 29, the Ramseys will send out the pair of Admiral Kitten, trained by Mike Maker, and Charming Kitten, trained by Todd Pletcher, both obviously sons of Kitten’s Joy.
Admiral Kitten, coming off a second in the grade I Hollywood Derby and a victory in the John B. Connelly (gr. IIIT) at Sam Houston Race Park, looks to be the one in better form, as they break side by side in posts 5 and 6, respectively, in the 11-horse field.
Admiral Kitten also has a victory in the grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park four races back and a fast-closing second in the grade I Jamaica Handicap after that. Julien Leparoux, who has ridden the 4-year-old colt in his last two starts, has the mount
Charming Kitten hasn’t won a stakes since capturing the race named after his sire, the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January 2013. Since then he has placed in the grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Penn Mile at Penn National Race Course, grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, and the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT). In his last start, he was sixth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT).
Javier Castellano will ride the 4-year-old for the first time.
The main threat to the Ramsey pair looks to be the Bill Mott-trained Amira's Prince, coming off a third behind Lochte in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT), his first start since March 2013 when he captured the Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Prior to that, he won the Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream, so we know he has the class, and should be much more dangerous now with a race under his belt.
The 5-year-old son of Teofilio, who was also entered in the Mervin Muniz at Fair Grounds the same day, would be ridden by Joel Rosario from post 7.
One horse who looks as if he might be rounding into form is the Mott-trained Slumber, coming off a strong third in the Mac Diarmida. The son of Cacique, owned by Juddmonte Farm, drew the rail under John Velazquez.
Mott also will saddle Newsdad, seventh in a recent allowance/optional claimer, his first start since finishing third in last year’s Pan Am. Before that, he captured the Fayette Stakes (gr. II) on the Keeneland Polytrack. Mike Smith gets the mount.
If you like Admiral Kitten, you have to give shot to Vertiformer, who finished third to the Ramsey horse, beaten only three-quarters of a length, in the John B. Connelly coming off a one-year layoff. Trained by Cristophe Clement, he will be ridden by Joe Bravo and break from post 2.
$200,000 Pan American Stakes (gr. II, Race 13, approximate post time 6:11 p.m. EDT), 4 Year-Olds and Up, 1 1/2 miles, Turf
1—Slumber (GB), J.R. Velazquez, 117, W. Mott
2—Vertiformer (KY), J. Bravo, 117, C. Clement
3—Joes Blazing Aaron (KY), E. Prado, 117, M. Maker
4—Suntracer (ILL), P. Lopez, 117, C. Block
5—Admiral Kitten (KY), J. Leparoux, 117, M. Maker
6—Charming Kitten (KY), J.J. Castellano, 117, T. Pletcher
7—Amira’s Prince (IRE), J. Rosario, 117, W. Mott
8—Joha (KY), R. Maragh, 117, T. Albertrani
9—Russian Greek (KY). D. Avidzba, 117, E. Coletti
10—Newsdad (KY), M.E. Smith, 117, W. Mott
11—Ocean Seven (IRE), P. Monterrey Jr, 117, S. Borunda