Challenges Await 'Kitty' in Juvenile Sprint

Great Britain-bred Filly will try males, longer distance in six-furlong test.

When asked about the chances of Ceiling Kitty in the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint Nov. 2, British trainer Tom Dascombe replied with a refreshing, "The truthful answer is I don't really know."

He ticked off the many new challenges the English-bred filly will face in the six-furlong race for 2-year-olds of either sex at Santa Anita Park.

"She's never been on dirt," he said. "Six furlongs is probably as far as she wants—she's really a five-furlong horse. And I've no idea how good the American horses are."

He isn't the only one. The Juvenile Sprint, in only its second year, has attracted a field of seven, and five of them have three or fewer starts.

Ceiling Kitty brings the most experience, with three wins in seven outings. Though Hightail  has started one more time, he remains a maiden.

Unlike her foes, Ceiling Kitty has never raced in this country. Three of the starters—morning-line favorite Merit Man, Super Ninety Nine , and Hazardous—have wins over Santa Anita's dirt track. A fourth, South Floyd, finished second to Merit Man in Santa Anita's Tim Conway Stakes.

Andrew Black bred the daughter of Red Clubs—Baldovina, by Tale of the Cat , in England. He owns her with the Master Bettors.

Ceiling Kitty competed twice on Kempton's synthetic track, with a second and a win.

"She's come around a bend at Kempton, even if it was right-handed," Dascombe said.

After her Kempton victory, Ceiling Kitty won two five-furlong races on the turf, at York and in the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot. She subsequently finished fourth at Doncaster and seventh at Newmarket in her only race at six furlongs.

Dascombe acknowledged that American racing's flat tracks as opposed to England's undulating courses might enable Ceiling Kitty to carry her speed six furlongs.

"She's very experienced and very straightforward," the trainer said. "She's not very big, less than 400 kilos (under 900 pounds) in weight. She's had a good season. We're pretty proud of her. If she breaks with them, handles the dirt, gets the trip, she'll go close. It's as simple as that."