LAKE PLACID STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 2 | 1 1/8 MILES (INNER TURF)
With an eye-catching final burst, favored Stephanie's Kitten prevailed by a half-length in the $200,000 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes on the inner turf course at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 19.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf winner, surpassed $1 million in career earnings. She atoned for a much-troubled fourth as the favorite in the Lake George Stakes at Saratoga July 25.
With John Velazquez aboard, 11-10 pick Stephanie's Kitten raced third from the rail in the Lake Placid, angled out a bit approaching the sixteenth pole, and blew past the leaders to win going away in the final strides. Centre Court, who took the lead in the final 100 yards under Julien Leparoux, settled for second by three-quarters of a length. The closing Somali Lemonade and Joel Rosario finished third.
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile test of 3-year-old fillies was 1:48.51.
Winning trainer Wayne Catalano said Stephanie's Kitten would be pointed to the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 13 at Keeneland prior to the Breeder's Cup.
Medolina set the pace in the Lake Placid, clipping off quarter-mile fractions of :23.62, :48.88, and 1:13.25, leading Centre Court and Stephanie's Kitten, who stalked throughout along the inside. Medolina's advantage was down to a half-length over Centre Court at the furlong pole as Stepahanie's Kitten looked for running room behind the first two.
The race was over quickly when Stephanie's Kitten found daylight to the outside. She rolled home powerfully under right-handed urging.
Stephanie's Kitten carried 118 pounds, four fewer than top-weighted Centre Court.
"I was on the rail the whole way," Velazquez said. "That's where I broke, and we planned to stay there to save the best ground we could, and I stayed there till the three-sixteenths pole and worked my way out till I finally got out at the eighth pole.
"When I asked, she responded right away. It was a great effort by her and an incredible last eighth. I know she has it in her, and as soon as I pulled her out and hit her with the whip she responded right away, so I was very impressed at the way she did it."
The final eighth of mile was timed in 11.47 seconds.
Stephanie's Kitten, a daughter of Kitten's Joy out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose, won for the second time in four starts this season. Following a third-place finish in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes on the Keeneland Polytrack in April, the bay filly captured the Edgewood Stakes on grass by two lengths as the even-money choice May 4 at Churchill Downs.
In the 1 1/16-mile Lake George more than 2 1/2 months later, Stephanie's Kitten trailed the field into the stretch and lacked room from mid-stretch to the sixteenth pole as she attempted to rally from sixth. She wound up fourth, beaten by a half-length by Centre Court. It is the only time she has finished out of the money.
Last year, Stephanie's Kitten won three of five starts with two thirds. She captured the Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland prior to her Breeders' Cup victory. Her career mark now stands at 5-0-3 in nine races with earnings of $1,104,082.
The winner paid $4.20, $3.10, and $2.20 while keying a $16 exacta with Centre Court ($3.70, $2.70). Somali Lemonade paid $3.10.
Medolina was fourth, followed by Better Lucky and Disposablepleasure.