Queen'splatekitten has been electrifying in his last starts, coming from the clouds to score both maiden and allowance wins. His connections will now get a chance to see how he fares against stakes company, as he is expected to be among the favorites for the $150,000 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) March 12 at Gulfstream Park.
The nine-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds drew a field of 10, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) winner Pluck, but he will go in a one-mile allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs earlier in the day for his season debut. Todd Pletcher trained Pluck during his Breeders’ Cup win in November, but the colt was moved to the barn of Graham Motion at the start of the year. Pletcher was assigned training duties of Queen’splatekitten when the colt was purchased privately by Mill House shortly after his decisive maiden win at Woodbine in December.
Queen’splatekitten won that maiden special weight by more than five lengths on Polytrack when coming from way off the pace. The son of Kitten's Joy followed up by rallying for a 1 1/2-length allowance victory Feb. 5 on the Gulfstream turf. John Velasquez was aboard for that win and will have the mount once again. They will break from post 5.
Pletcher said Queen’splatekitten could be pointed for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) next month at Keeneland with the ultimate goal being the Queen’s Plate on June 26 at Woodbine. The colt was bred in Ontario by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Pletcher will also saddle Zayat Stables’ Ari C, a maiden winner at Gulfstream in January and runner-up by a half-length in an entry-level allowance Feb. 16. Expected to be close to the pace, Ari C will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez.
Sharing top weight of 120 pounds will be Master Dunker and Rafe. Get Away Farm Racing Stable’s Master Dunker crossed the wire a neck behind King Conge in the Feb. 6 Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream but was placed first through disqualification. The David Fawkes trainee has really improved since being switched to turf, taking an allowance event in his debut on that surface and finishing a close third in the Dania Beach in January. Luis Saez will ride.
World Thoroughbreds Racing’s Rafe has won two of three starts to begin his career, including the Feb. 5 Overnight Stakes at Tampa Bay when the Anabaa colt scored at 12-1. Elvis Trujillo picks up the mount for Chad Stewart.
Dale Romans, who won this event last year with the then maiden Paddy O’Prado, will send out Artful Run, a maiden winner at Gulfstream in January and third last out in an optional claimer.
The Palm Beach is one of three stakes on a Gulfstream card that also includes the Timely Writer and Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II).
$150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:55 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. East of Danzig (NY), J Bravo, 116, M R Matz
2. Ari C (KY), J Castellano, 116, T A Pletcher
3. Joes Blazing Aaron (KY), O Bocachica, 116, A Hunter Jr.
4. Artful Run (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, D L Romans
5. Queen'splatekitten (ON), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher
6. Newsdad (KY), J L Castanon, 116, W I Mott
7. Liberty Cap (KY), J Lezcano, 116, K P McLaughlin
8. Pluck (KY), R Maragh, 120, H G Motion
9. Master Dunker (FL), L Saez, 120, D Fawkes
10. Rafe (KY), E Trujillo, 120, C J Stewart