Racing for the first time since a sixth-place finish in the 2012 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup (gr. IT) last October, Stephanie's Kitten defeated last year's Distaff Turf Mile winner Hungry Island by a neck in the process (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy has earned five of her six career victories in stakes company for owner/breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, including the 2011 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT).
She went from last to first over "good" turf in the event for older fillies and mares, closing hard on the outside to run down Hungry Island in a final time of 1:37.94. Stephanie's Kitten was ridden by Julien Leparoux to victory in her first start of 2013 for trainer Wayne Catalano.
The leader in the Distaff Turf on a damp and dismal Derby Day at Churchill was 19-1 shot Frontside, who set solid fractions of :24.29 and :49.15 while leading by about one length after the firs half-mile. Frontside was tracked by Stopshoppingmaria and Daisy Devine, and the latter loomed large between rivals to take the lead after six furlongs in 1:13.81.
Stephanie's Kitten, meanwhile, was last of eight and racing well of the hedge under Leparoux, who swung her five wide leaving the turn and set down for the drive. At that point Hungry Island had taken over from Daisy Devine with a four-wide move mid-stretch, but after seven-eighths in 1:25.78 was joined quickly by the winner and then just passed.
Stephanie's Kitten returned $9.80, $4.40, and $3 at odds of 7-2, while 2-1 favorite Hungry Island brought $3.40 and $2.60 and Daisy Devine paid $2.80 at 3-1. Following were Channel Lady, Karlovy Vary, Frontside, Drama Drama, and Stopshoppingmaria. Marketing Mix and Class Included scratched.
Bred in Kentucky out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose, Stephanie's Kitten has now won six races with three thirds from 11 outings, including the 2011 Darley Alcibiades (gr. IT) at Keeneland, and the 2012 Lake Placid (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course. She also won the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill last year. The $173,655 winner's share of the purse improved her earnings to $1,280,404.