Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred 3-year-old Big Blue Kitten received a perfect ground-saving trip under John Velazquez, scoring the $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) by 1 1/4 lengths in his stakes debut Aug. 12 at Saratoga.
It was the fifth consecutive victory for the son of Kitten's Joy , who had no problem with the step up in class. The bay colt began his win streak in March when breaking his maiden for a $35,000 tag at Gulfstream Park.
Chad Brown trains Big Blue Kitten, who is out of the Unaccounted For mare Spent Gold.
Big Blue Kitten sat a stalking third for much of the way, racing patiently behind pacesetter Rustler Hustler, who took the field of seven sophomores through reasonable splits of :24.42, :49.12, and 1:12.99 under Javier Castellano. Humble and Hungry pressed the leader, who hit the top of the lane still holding a narrow advantage.
But Big Blue Kitten, racing toward the inside the whole time, was in perfect position to slide through a narrow opening along the rail approaching the eighth-pole, and he spurted clear under a fearless Velazquez. Perregaux rallied nicely from the outside in the late stages, but it was only good enough to nip Humble and Hungry by a half-length for second.
The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf course was 1:42.91.
“It was a perfect trip," Velazquez said. "If I wanted to plan this, it couldn’t have turned out more perfect. We definitely wanted to come out running. I tried to save some ground on the first turn and I ended up being on the rail. We wanted to have somebody in front of us; the horse in front of us stayed in front longer than I thought he would.
"I got through on the rail and he made me look like a hero. This horse just seems to get better and better with every race. Every time they ask him to do something different, he does it. He keeps improving.”
After finishing third in his February debut, Big Blue Kitten went wire-to-wire in his next three starts, which included a five-length victory in a $50,000 claiming race at Keeneland and a narrow win in a starter handicap at Belmont in May. Last out, he scored a July 2 allowance contest at Belmont when sitting just off the leader at the same 1 1/16-mile distance.
The Kentucky homebred improved to 5-0-1 from six career starts and upped his earnings to $182,310.
“The last start really got my attention," Brown said. "Johnny told me that horse could have won by five. He had his plan since the last race. He said, ‘Just leave me on the horse.’ He’s been planning this for five weeks. Johnny won the race on the first turn. He got to the fence.”
There was no immediate word on the plans for Big Blue Kitten, but Ken Ramsey said there is one level his colt will no longer race.
“We’ve offered this horse for a claiming price three times and no one claimed him," Ramsey said. "No more claimers!”
The winner paid $11, $6, and $4. Perregaux, with Julien Leparoux aboard, returned $15.40 and $7.10, and filled out a $163 exacta (6-4). The trifecta (6-4-5) was worth $963.