Howe Great captures the Kitten's Joy at Gulfstream Park.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Howe Great captures the Kitten's Joy at Gulfstream Park.
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Howe Great Caps Big Week for Connections

Quick colt wires Kitten's Joy for Team Valor International and trainer Graham Motion.

Howe Great registered a front-running victory in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes to cap a big week for Team Valor International and trainer Graham Motion, who also started runner-up Lucky Chappy at Gulfstream Park Jan. 21 (VIDEO).

Motion and Team Valor claimed the Eclipse Award for the nation's top 3-year-old with Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom  to begin the week. Motion was on hand at Gulfstream to saddle Team Valor's Howe Great, who defeated his stablemate, 11-10 choice Lucky Chappy, by 2 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile turf event for 3-year-olds. The final time was 1:40.42 on firm turf.

Howe Great was sent right to the lead by Edgar Prado while Lucky Chappy settled toward the rear of the seven-horse field under Javier Castellano. Howe Great was comfortably in front of Cozzetti while clicking off fractions of :24.64, :48.01, and 1:11.17.

Cozzetti and Empire Builder increased the pressure while approaching the far turn, but Howe Great was up to the challenge. The son of Hat Trick maintained control on the turn when asked for more by Prado and sprinted away to open up a clear advantage mid-stretch. He expanded his lead in the final furlong as Lucky Chappy closed up well to edge Empire Builder and Antonio Gallardo by three-quarters of a length for second.

“I talked to Edgar before the race and we agreed that if no one else wanted the lead, we’d be happy to take it, although I don’t think he’s one dimensional,” Motion said. “I knew Lucky Chappy would be up against it as he always breaks a step slow."

“We saw the race just like everybody else did. There was no speed on paper,” Prado said. “We went to the front, slowed it down, and the rest was history. He had plenty left.”

Howe Great remained undefeated in two starts on turf. Bred in Kentucky by Barry Irwin, Howe Great had a win and a second on dirt at Parx last fall before winning his 2012 debut on turf at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 15. The dark bay/brown colt, out of the South African mare Ginger Sea (by Western Winter) has banked $121,500.

Lucky Chappy captured two of three races on turf in Italy last year before concluding his 2011 campaign with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. Team Valor’s second-place finisher was making his 2012 debut in the Kitten’s Joy.

Animal Kingdom is being pointed toward the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 31 after a likely start at Gulfstream Park next month, and he may very well have company on the flight to the Middle East.

“It’s possible we’ll consider one of them (Howe Great or Lucky Chappy) to go to Dubai (for the UAE Derby),” Motion said. “We’ll also look at the Palm Beach here later in the meet (March 11). We haven’t ruled out anything for either of them at this point.”

Howe Great paid $11.40, $4.60, $3.80. Lucky choppy returned $2.80 and $2.20. The Team Valor/Motion exacta was worth $28.20. Empire Builder paid $5.40.