Redwood Kitten, Zee Bros Win on Pimlico Card
James W. Murphy Stakes
Redwood Kitten went wire-to-wire in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico Race Course May 18, registering his second career victory and first stakes win for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward (VIDEO).
The homebred son of Kitten's Joy finished a mile on firm turf in 1:35.17 under jockey Joel Rosario, who earned his 22nd North American stakes score from 84 starts in such company this year.
"I thought I would be laying second, but he broke sharp, so I let him go," Rosario said. "I wanted to save something for the finish. Every time the other horse came to me, he went on and was all there to the end."
Rosario inherited a two-length lead from the 9 post in a field of 10 sophomores with gelded Redwood Kitten at the first call. He was clear and well ahead of trouble on the first turn when Yougotthatgoinforu lost rider Emilio Flores, who did not appear to be injured and walked off the track on his own.
Wry Me, carried extremely wide by Yougotthatgoinforu, was judiciously pulled up and jogged off by jockey Jeremy Rose. Also entering the first turn, Red Wings bobbled and was pulled up and walked off by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. No serious injuries of horses or riders were reported.
The frontrunner went an opening quarter in :24.26 and a half in :48.74 along the rail, maintaining his advantage by a length and increasing that margin to 1 1/2 after three quarters in 1:11.19. Responding when asked, he held sway by a length under an energetic ride, while Shining Copper closed but hung. Notacatbutallama was third by another three lengths.
"I liked how the race unfolded," Ward said. "He got away with an easy first quarter and then it was just a sprint home. This horse is a lot better with a little bit more spacing between his races. That's why we didn't run two weeks ago at Churchill in the American Turf.
"He has really blossomed in the last couple weeks. I'll talk it over with the owners about his next race. I know they're big on running at Churchill Downs so maybe there'll be something Stephen Foster weekend."
Off at odds of 2-1, second choice Redwood Kitten returned $6.80, $3.80, and $3 while 11-2 Shining Copper paid $6 and $3.80 and 2-1 pick Notacatbutallama brought $2.80. English Minister, China Holiday, Heat Press, and Honour the Vow completed the order of finish. Special Skills scratched.
Redwood Kitten, bred in Illinois out of the Woodman mare Chianti Red, now has a 2-2-3 record from nine starts, with earnings of $122,800. -- Claire Novak
Chick Lang Stakes
Zayat Stables' Zee Bros took the lead from the start and wasn't seriously threatened en route to a 2 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds (VIDEO).
Zee Bros, a disappointing sixth in the Derby Trial (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in April in his last start, was ridden by Martin Garcia for trainer Bob Baffert. The Brother Derek colt set fractions of :22.65 and :45.16 before completing six furlongs in 1:10.72 on a fast track.
"We've always been really high on this horse," said Baffert, who saddled Fiftyshadesofhay to win the Black-Eyed susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico a day earlier. "His Derby Trial, he went real fast, the track was off and tiring. He got a lot out of it and we expected him to run a big race today."
The main track at Pimlico was watered and graded before the Chick Lang, and appeared quicker than in previous races.
Bobcat Jim, who dueled from the outside of Zee Bros for most of the race, fought back to take second by a neck over Brave Dave, who shadowed the top two in third and had secured second until near the wire. City of Weston attempted to rally along the rail but couldn't gain and finished fourth.
Slight 5-2 favorite Undrafted was a non-threatening fifth, followed by Res Judicata, Perilous Indian, Clawback, and Tour Guide.
Zee Bros, who drifted toward the center of the track entering the stretch, paid $7.20, $5, and $4.20, and capped a $31.80 exacta. Zee Bros, out of the Montbrook mare Nyanza, was bred in Kentucky by Eico Stable and sold for $270,000 as a 2-year-old at the OBS April sale in 2012.–Tom LaMarra
Tim O'Donohue's Debt Ceiling, a debut winner at Laurel Park in March, remained undefeated in two starts with a come-from-behind win in the $75,000 Rollicking Stakes for 2-year-olds (VIDEO).
With Eric Camacho riding for trainer John Robb, Debt Ceiling rated off a quick opening quarter-mile in :21.81, picked up horses as the pace slowed through a half-mile in :46.35, and then collared the leaders in the lane to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:00.27 for five furlongs on a fast track.
"We'll go back to Laurel after this," said Robb. "We were just pointing to this race. There aren't a lot of spots for him right now. His first race, he was not really ready and we didn't expect him to run as well as he did. But he was ready for this one."
Silvertonguedtommy, who led to mid-stretch, held for second, three-quarters of a length in front of the filly New Zone. The other filly in the race, heavy favorite Sweet Emma Rose, couldn't clear Silvertonguedtommy early and faded to fourth in the six-horse race.
Take Time to Pray was fifth and first-time starter John Bailey sixth. No Nay Never and Knit One Purr Too were scratched.
Debt Ceiling, a son of Discreet Cat bred in Kentucky by Brandywine Farm, paid $12.20 to win as the third choice and topped a $54.40 exacta. The bark bay or brown colt, out of the Marquetry mare Top Marks, sold for $27,000 as a 2012 Keeneland September yearling.
"I picked him out at Keeneland and I really liked his eye," O'Donohue said. "It was like the eye of a tiger and he was very professional. He was the total package and his family; the runners are very precocious."–Tom LaMarra
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