PILGRIM STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 2-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16-MILES (TURF)
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Bobby's Kitten threw down the gauntlet to his prospective challengers in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf by dismantling Sunday's Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim, a "Win and You're In" event at Belmont Park. Trained by Chad Brown and almost too eager to handle for new rider Javier Castellano, the 9-5 favorite romped by 6 1/4 lengths over stablemate Shadow Banking.
Yet another budding star by the Ramseys' turf champion and outstanding sire Kitten's Joy, Bobby's Kitten is named in honor of the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. He is showing his intent to live up to the moniker, with his tour de force in the Pilgrim backing up his sensational maiden win at Saratoga.
Marvin's Miracle broke on top, but Bobby's Kitten had too much speed to be restrained and was a half-length up through an opening quarter in :24 3/5. Castellano then cajoled him into a pace-pressing second, but he was still hard held through fractions of :48 and 1:12 1/5. Former Brown pupil Due Diligence, making his first start since being purchased by Coolmore and turned over to Todd Pletcher, sat farther back in third.
Bobby's Kitten was given his head entering the stretch, and the response was immediate. The exciting prospect drew away, finished 1 1/16 miles on the firm inner turf in 1:42 1/5, and paid $5.70 to win.
"Second time out, we learned (Bobby's Kitten) was capable of leaving early and finishing," Brown said. "He has speed and can carry it, which makes him dangerous. Javier came out and worked him the other day and really liked the horse and accepted the mount on him. He said, 'I want to go out. I'm not going to worry what anybody else is doing. I'm going to ride my race. I'm real confident.' He rode that way."
"I had a lot of confidence because I worked this horse in the morning, and I know how talented he is," Castellano said. "I was impressed with his maturity today and how he did it. He broke well out of the gate. He's a very straightforward horse and was very impressive today."
Bobby's Kitten is named in honor of the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
There was a bunched-up finish for the minor awards. Shadow Banking, owned by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, bested Captain's Affair by a half-length to round out the Brown exacta.
"I thought he did well," Brown said of Shadow Banking, who was exiting a 6 1/4-length maiden conquest on September 11. "Considering the short rest he was on -- I prefer that 31-60 day window, especially with my grass horses -- he was looking a little bouncy, but he was able to pull through a slow pace and still get up for second. Now I have a little bit more time for his third start.
"I'm taking them both if they are healthy," Brown added regarding Juvenile Turf plans.
Due Diligence crossed the wire another length adrift in fourth, edging Blue Pigeon and Sheldon. Next came Marvin's Miracle, Otoy and Sandy Point.
Bobby's Kitten has been favored in all three of his starts. After a hard-charging third in his July 27 premiere at the Spa, he dominated in wire-to-wire fashion over the same course and 1 1/16-mile trip on August 24. His bankroll now stands at $185,500.
The Kentucky-bred Bobby's Kitten is out of the winning Forestry mare Celestial Woods, making him a full brother to Major Magic, winner of the 2011 Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs.
Bobby's Kitten hails from the prominent turf family of champion and $3.4-million earner Paradise Creek, whose major victories include the 1994 Arlington Million and Washington D.C. International; Grade 1 stars Forbidden Apple and Wild Event; and multiple highweight David Junior, winner of the 2005 Champion Stakes and 2006 Eclipse and Dubai Duty Free.
A further generation back come two more stand-outs: 1987 turf champ Theatrical, who capped his glittering season in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Japan's Taiki Blizzard, hero of the prestigious Yasuda Kinen in 1997. Digging deeper, one finds Japanese champion and French highweight Nakayama Festa, a close second in the 2010 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Italian champion *Prince Royal II, who garnered the 1964 Arc.