Kitten's Joy impressive
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Kitten's Joy stamped himself as the best grass horse in the country with a powerful win in Saturday's Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park.
Kitten's Joy won the 1 1/2-mile grass race by 2 1/2 lengths over Magistretti, the 8-5 favorite in the seven-horse field. It was another three-quarters of a length back to European invader Tycoon in third in the $750,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
Next stop for Kitten's Joy is the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. Four Turf Classic winners - Manila, Theatrical, Tikkanen, and Buck's Boy - went on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf. Kitten's Joy is the seventh 3-year-old in 28 runnings to win the Turf Classic.
Kitten's Joy, who was ridden by John Velazquez, raced in fourth down the backstretch behind Maktub, Magistretti, and Kicken Kris.
He unleashed a powerful stretch run to wear down Magistretti with less than a furlong remaining.
Magistretti, who won the Grade 1 Man o' War in his last start, looked liked he was on his way to victory at the quarter pole, but Kitten's Joy blew by him in the stretch.
Prado, who was aboard Magistretti, said, "I thought I could get away from him. These are two nice colts and they battled to the end."
Patrick Biancone, Magistretti's trainer, said, "I got beat by a better horse today."
Kitten's Joy returned $6.80 as the second choice. He covered the distance in 2:29.97 over a yielding course. The final quarter was run in a swift 22.66 seconds.
Dale Romans, who trains Kitten's Joy for his breeders, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, said he plans on arriving at Lone Star Park two weeks prior to the Breeders' Cup Turf. Romans and the Ramseys also have a top contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic in Roses in May.
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic was Kitten's Joy's sixth graded stakes win this year and his second Grade 1 win.
"He's special," Romans said. "He was dominant today. He impresses me more and more every race. What amazed me about him is his turn of foot, acceleration, and how kind he is during the race."
Velazquez said Kitten's Joy was ready to go when he asked him.
"When I hit him, he was like 'whoa' and just took off," Velazquez said. "I wish every horse could be like him."