USA: Kitten set for Ascot after Churchill win

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Report: USA, Saturday

Churchill Downs: Edgewood Stakes 1m½f, turf, 3yo fillies

BREEDERS’ CUP winner Stephanie’s Kitten (Wayne Catalano/John Velazquez) will be targeted for Royal Ascot after a decisive victory on the Kentucky Oaks undercard where she shattered the stakes record.

Anglophile owner Ken Ramsey, whose Cannonball finished runner-up in the Golden Jubilee in 2009, is planning a return visit this summer with Stephanie’s Kitten heading his team in the Coronation Stakeson June 22.

Winner of the Grade 2 Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at last year’s Breeders’ Cup, the three-year-old was third in a Grade 1 event on Polytrack at Keeneland last month on her seasonal debut.

A daughter of Ramsey’s stallion Kitten’s Joy, Stephanie’s Kitten was even-money favourite for Friday’s $150,000 event.

She tracked the leaders before taking over from Welcome Dance just before the furlong marker and then drew away, comfortably holding the late run of Firehouse Red to win by two lengths.

Stephanie’s Kitten stopped the clock at 1m40.94s on the sun-baked turf, taking a full second off the previous best for the race.

“We are on our way to Royal Ascot if everything goes well,” said winning trainer Wayne Catalano. “That’s what’Mr Ramsey would like and we’ll try to fulfil his dream.”

Velazquez, riding the filly for the first time since the Breeders’ Cup, feels she has grown up. “She was so much better today,” he said. “She normally likes to lug in and everything but she today she just went on and ran the race like a champion filly. She got away from the horses and never even waited.”

>>Gung Ho, Ramsey’s’St James’s Palace Stakes entry, did not make the frame behind Silver Max (Dale Romans/Rafael Bejarano) later on the card in the Grade 2 American Turf.

Churchill Downs: La Troienne Stakes (Grade 2)
1m½f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m

After getting edgy in the preliminaries, the Gerard Butler-trained Maristar was never a factor here and could finish only sixth ofseven behind former claimer Juanita (Mike Maker/Ramon Dominguez).

The 16-1 shot ran past last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, sent off 2-5 favourite, at the head of the stretch and scored comfortably by a couple of lengths. St John’s River ran down Plum Pretty in the final furlong to take second. “There was no excuse, she just quit in the stretch,” said Plum Pretty’s jockey Rafael Bejarano.

Churchill Downs: Alysheba Stakes (Grade 2)
1m½, dirt, 4yo+

Successful Dan (Charles Lopresti/Julien Leparoux) came from off the pace to wear down Fort Larned by a length, setting a track record in the process.

The six-year-old, just over a 4-1 chance, recorded a time of 1m41.04s as he scored for the second time after a 17-month injury layoff.

His career record now stands at a noteworthy seven wins from only ten starts. “This is one of the best horses I’ve ridden so far in my career,” said Julien Leparoux. “He’s a beautiful horse and he has a great kick.”

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