Kathmanblu takes the Sweetest Chant under Julien Leparoux.<br><a target="blank" href="http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/photo-store?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fpictopia.com%2Fperl%2Fgal%3Fprovider_id%3D368%26ptp_photo_id%3D9379629%26ref%3Dstory">Order This Photo</a>

Kathmanblu takes the Sweetest Chant under Julien Leparoux.
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Kathmanblu Starts Year in Sweetest Chant Win

Grade II winner rolls at Gulfstream; aiming at Kentucky Oaks for trainer Ken McPeek.

Kathmanblu, a highly-accomplished 2-year-old with stakes victories on turf and dirt, started her 2011 season with a professional 1 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes as the 1-2 favorite at Gulfstream Park Jan. 22 (VIDEO) .

Ridden by jockey Julien Leparoux, Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu rated in fifth down the backstretch of the one-mile turf test while War Prospector opened up an eight-length lead on the field with fractions of :23.31, :47.35, and 1:13.04.

After rallying on the outside around the turn, Kathmanblu drove to the lead at the eighth pole and came home under a strong hand ride for a comfortable win over Michael Tabor’s Excited in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies. Those two were followed by Nina Fever and Holidaysatthefarm in a dead-heat for third, 10 ¾ lengths farther back. The final time was 1:39.14 over "good" ground.

“Besides the frontrunner, we were all pretty close together and that one (War Prospector) stopped pretty bad, so we were able to get to her pretty easily,” Leparoux said. “I was never really worried. Good horses run on everything and she’s clearly one of them. Turf, dirt – I think synthetic will be fine for her, too. Added distance will be no problem.”

Kathmanblu was trainer Ken McPeek’s third winner of the afternoon. Five-D Thoroughbreds' homebred bay filly took a positive first step toward her springtime goal of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Bluegrass Cat --Abba Gold, by Devil's Bag, completed her juvenile campaign winning the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs by 8 ½ lengths Nov. 27. She also won the Jessamine Stakes on the turf at Keeneland during a 2010 season that included three victories in six starts.

“Julien said she was struggling with the turf, but she’s just that good,” McPeek said. “She’s doing so well right now. That’s the last time you’ll see her on turf for a while at least. I want to run her in a two-turn (dirt) race sometime in February someplace. Unfortunately, there isn’t a race for her at Gulfstream on that schedule, so we’ll probably look at a race at Oaklawn or Fair Grounds.

"We’ll nominate to the Gulfstream Oaks (Apr. 2), but several of the owners are from Lexington, so the Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland is another option for her final race before the (Kentucky) Oaks.”

Kathmanblu increased her career earnings to $380,731 and paid $3, $2.20, and $2.10 for the win.