Virginia Derby (gr. III)

(gr. IIIT , 10f ,)

KITTEN'S JOY (CH h, 117 lb) $300,000
El Prado (IRE) —Kitten's First , by Lear Fan
B—Sarah K. Ramsey, KY.; O—Ramsey, Kenneth L. and Sarah K.; T—Dale L. Romans

Artie Schiller (B h, 117 lb) $100,000
El Prado (IRE) —Hidden Light , by Majestic Light
B—Haras Du Mezeray S.A., KY.; O—Timber Bay Farm and Walsh, Mrs. Thomas J.; T—James A. Jerkens

Prince Arch (B h, 119 lb) $55,000
Arch —Princess Kris (GB) , by Kris (GB)
B—Pine Lake Bloodstock LLC, KY.; O—Raymond H. Cottrell, Sr.; T—Kenneth G. McPeek

Margins: 2¾, 4¾, 12¾. Others: Lipan 115($30,000) , Class Concern 115($15,000) , Jane's Luck 115 , Irish Laddie 115 , No Place Like It 119 . Winning Jockey, Edgar S. Prado.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who won the July 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) with Roses in May, didn’t have to wait long for another graded stakes winner. A week later, their homebred Kitten’s Joy captured the July10 Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT).

Kitten’s Joy, a son of leading turf stallion El Prado, started his career on dirt, but wasn’t given much of an opportunity to excel on that surface. After an unplaced finish at Saratoga and a close runner-up effort at Belmont Park in his first two starts as a 2-year-old, Kitten’s Joy was moved to the turf and promptly won at Belmont.

Since the switch, Kitten’s Joy has won six of seven races, with his lone defeat a runner-up effort in the June 12 Jefferson Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs in his last start. He started the year with consecutive wins in the Tropical Park Derby, Palm Beach Stakes, and Crown Royal American Turf Stakes, all grade III turf events. His Virginia Derby win came over El Prado’s son, Artie Schiller.

El Prado is not the only major turf influence close up in Kitten’s Joy’s pedigree. Kitten’s Joy’s broodmare sire, Lear Fan, a group I winner in France, also has earned a reputation as one of America’s top grass stallions, siring two Eclipse Award turf winners.

Kitten’s Joy’s dam, Kitten’s First, also raced on grass and was one of the Ramseys’ first horses. Sarah Ramsey bought Kitten’s First for $41,000 at the 1993 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company March sale of 2-year-olds in training from El Nino Farm and raced her in her colors.

Kitten’s First started out by winning a maiden turf race as a 2-year-old at Belmont Park in July of 1993. A month later, in the Junior Champion Stakes on grass at Monmouth Park, she injured a hip in a starting gate accident and did not finish. She was retired and bred the following year to Broad Brush. That mating produced stakes winner Justenuffheart.

Because of her injury, Kitten’s First has delivered several of her foals by Caesarean section. Her last two foals, both fillies, are by the Ramseys’ stallion Catienus, who stands at Highcliff Farm near Delanson, N.Y. Kitten’s First, who is kept at Ramsey Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., has been given a rest and is not in foal.

El Prado has sired 52 stakes winners. His 13 stakes winners of 2004 include Medaglia d’Oro (gr. I) and grade III turf winners Artie Schiller, Shaconage, Timo, and Mi Pradera (in Puerto Rico). Owned by a partnership, El Prado stands at Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs Kentucky near Midway. His 2004 fee was $75,000.—D.S.