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Kathmanblu takes flight in Sweetest Chant
KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) burst onto the radar last year with a four-length romp in the grassy Jessamine S. at Keeneland, then found herself in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) spotlight when dominating the Golden Rod S. (G2) under the Twin Spires by 8 1/2 lengths. On Saturday, the Kenny McPeek trainee gave notice she's carried her two-year-old form into the New Year when recording a 1 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. at Gulfstream Park.
Kathmanblu returned to the turf for her three-year-old bow, and found herself racing over ground rated as good at the Hallandale, Florida, venue. The bay lass settled in midpack as War Prospector (War Front) drew off by as much as eight lengths on the backstretch while posting fractions of :23 1/5, :47 1/5 and 1:13. Jockey Julien Leparoux never panicked on the heavy 1-2 favorite, instead allowing his mount to find her own way before angling her out for the stretch run.
Coming three wide round the turn, Kathmanblu hooked up with Excited (Giant's Causeway) at the head of the lane. The pair duked it out for a moment before Kathmanblu asserted her class and began drawing off. While Excited easily beat out the dead-heating pair of Nina Fever (Borrego) and Holidaysatthefarm (Smarty Jones) by 10 3/4 lengths, she was no match for the winner, who crossed under the wire 1 1/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:39 for the mile test.
"Besides the front runner, 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."
"Julien said she was struggling with the turf (yielding), but she's just that good," McPeek added. "She's doing so well right now."
Owned by Wind River Stables and breeder Five D Thoroughbreds, Kathmanblu was worth $3, $2.20 and $2.10 to her backers while keying the $11.80 exacta. Excited, the 5-1 second choice, gave back $3.80 and $2.40 while being sandwiched in the trifectas by Nina Fever ($21.40) and Holidaysatthefarm ($16.80). Nina Fever paid $2.10 as the 7-1 third pick while Holidaysatthefarm's show price equaled $2.20 at 8-1. The 3-6-5-7 superfecta came to $64.60 while the 3-6-7-5 superfecta totaled $62.80.
Bellaridge (Cactus Ridge) was a length behind the dead-heating duo and next came War Prospector and Michelle's Trip (Trippi), who also finished in tandem on the wire. Tiger Girl (Hold That Tiger) brought up the rear of the field with Greatest Dream (Greatness) withdrawing as a main-track only entrant.
In addition to taking the Golden Rod and Jessamine, Kathmanblu also ran third in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) and P. G. Johnson S. While she began her racing career on the dirt at Churchill Downs, the filly didn't actually break her maiden until trying the turf next out at Ellis Park. Her turf line now reads 5-3-1-1, and her overall record stands at 7-4-1-1, $380,731.
"That's the last time you'll see her on turf for a while at least," McPeek said while discussing his charge's upcoming schedule. "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 (April 2) Gulfstream Oaks (G2), but several of the owners are from Lexington (Kentucky), so the (April 9) Ashland (G1) at Keeneland is another option for her final race before the (Kentucky) Oaks (G1)."
The Kentucky-bred lass is the first stakes winner out of multiple stakes-placed Abba Gold (Devil's Bag), who has since produced an unnamed juvenile Pulpit colt. Abba Gold is herself a daughter of dual stakes heroine Valiant Jewel (Buckley Boy), making her a half-sister to Friendly Michelle (Artax), who captured the 2004 Prioress S. (G1) and La Troienne S. (G3) as well as placing in the Acorn S. (G1) and Las Virgenes S. (G1).
Kathmanblu, who RNA'd for $57,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, comes from the same family as 2010 Comely S. (G3) runner-up Speightful Affair (Speightstown).