Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Stephanie's Kitten came from off the pace and ran down Heart of Destiny inside the sixteenth pole to win the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) by 1 1/2 lengths Oct. 7 on opening day at Keeneland (VIDEO).
The daughter of Kitten's Joy earned an automatic berth in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) next month at Churchill Downs, but the connections said she would be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) instead.
Stephanie’s Kitten entered the Alcibiades out of a third-place finish in the Sept. 17 Natalma (Can-IIIT) on the Woodbine turf course in her stakes debut. She broke her maiden on the Arlington Park turf course at second asking in August. Wayne Catalano is the winning trainer.
"She's a little better on grass, but she was training so well on Polytrack," Catalano said.
John Velazquez, who was originally scheduled to ride Sweet Cat before she was scratched, fortuitously picked up the mount on the bay filly. They covered 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack in 1:43.12.
Stephanie’s Kitten raced ninth in the early going while Cheerleader and On Fire Baby fought it out on the front end through fractions of :23.28, :47.08, and 1:11.97. But it was longshot Heart of Destiny that came off the final turn with the lead, and she was getting the best of Putthebabiesdown when they hit the eighth pole.
Stephanie’s Kitten made her winning move on the turn, entered the stretch four–wide, and collared Heart of Destiny in deep stretch to win going away. Heart of Destiny and Edgar Prado settled for second, a neck in front of Putthebabiesdown. Frolic's Revenge was fourth.
"Wayne said, 'You're riding a really good horse, just ride like it. Take your time, try to save some ground. When you're ready to go just make your move and get her ready'," Velazquez said. "She responded really good."
The winner was bred in Kentucky and is out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose. Named for the Ramsey's granddaughter, she improved to 2-0-1 from three starts with earnings of $277,526.
Unfold the Rose is out of the Ramsey's grade I winner Bail Out Becky.
"The stud fee just went up on Kitten's Joy," beamed Ramsey, who stands the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) runner-up at his Nicholasville farm.
Sent off as the fourth choice, she paid $21.60, $10.40, and $6.80. The exacta (7-11) returned $315.60 with 17-1 Heart of Destiny, while the trifecta (7-11-1) was worth $3,999.40.
On Fire Baby was fifth, followed by And Why Not, favored Tu Endie Wei, New Wave, Ann of the Dance, Egg Drop, Venetian Sonata, Flashy Lassie, and Cheerleader.
A crowd of 19,026 attended opening day on a picture-perfect afternoon in Lexington, which was a record for an opening Friday. Perennial leading rider Julien Leparoux got off to a hot start with four winners on the 10-race card.