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Stephanie's Kitten surges late in Juvenile Fillies Turf
Stephanie's Kitten came flying late to collar pacesetter Stopshoppingmaria in deep stretch and surged to a three-quarter length victory in Friday's $909,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs. Winner of the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes on Keeneland's Polytrack in her previous start, the Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred was ridden by John Velazquez.
It was a tough beat for Stopshoppingmaria, who showed the way on a narrow lead through fractions of :24 2/5. :50 3/5 and 1:15 3/5 before opening up on her rivals in upper stretch. She led until the final yards, easily holding the place over third-placer Sweet Cat.
Stephanie's Kitten relaxed off the pace in midpack during the early stages and began to advance along the inside upon reaching the stretch. The daughter of Kitten's Joy still had plenty of work to do with a furlong remaining, but Velazquez guided the Wayne Catalano-trained filly off the hedge and to the outside of Stopshoppingmaria, and Stephanie's Kitten finished up dramatically. She stopped the teletimer over the good turf in 1:38 4/5.
"She was amazing," Velazquez said. "As soon as I asked her to go in between those other two horses, she responded right away. It's nice when you can ride horses like that. It makes it easy for us. She's game for anything I ask her to do. That's what I like about her."
"I'm so happy for Mr. Ramsey," Catalano added. "He loves the game. And winning is the thing for him, it's not even for the money. I got a little nervous late, so I want to go and watch the replay. She ran her heart out."
Off as the 6-1 third choice among 14 two-year-old fillies, Stephanie's Kitten paid $14.20, $6.60 and $5.20.
Irish shipper Up wound up fourth and was followed under the finish line by Hard Not to Like, Somali Lemonade, Pure Gossip, 5-2 favorite Elusive Kate, Dayatthespa, Royal Bonnie, Customer Base, My Gi Gi, Ann of the Dance and Dear Lavinia.
A maiden winner of Arlington Park's turf in her second career outing, Stephanie's Kitten recorded a third in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes on Woodbine's turf prior to the Alciabides. She has now earned $817,526 from a 5-3-0-2 line.
Stephanie's Kitten RNAed twice in the sales ring, failing to meet her reserve with a final bid of $30,000 at last year's Keeneland September and $17,000 in this season's OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. She is out of the unraced Catienus mare Unfold the Rose, who is herself a daughter of Grade 1 heroine Bail Out Becky.