Ken Ramsey leads Kitten's Dumplings nto the winner's circle after the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes on Oct. 12 at Keeneland Race Course. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten’s Dumplings captured the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland Saturday, beating out favorite Alterite by a neck to earn the first Grade 1 victory of her career.
Sent off as the 4.90-to-1 third betting choice, Kitten’s Dumplings started the race second to last as Leigh Court led the way through a half-mile in :46.56 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:10.55. Leigh Court kept the lead heading into the stretch, but was challenged from four wide by Kitten’s Dumplings, Alterite and 18.70-to-1 longshot Caroline Thomas. Kitten's Dumplings proved best in the final furlong to nail down the win.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II CHALLENGE CUP RECAP
Caroline Thomas bested Leigh Court for third and Leigh Court ended up fourth.
Kitten’s Dumplings, by leading sire Kitten’s Joy, was the fifth Grade 1 winner of 2013 sired by Kitten’s Joy.
"She always comes from behind and we had the pace today; they went pretty fast in front and she made a big run at the end," Leparoux said. "I tried to get a jump a little bit on Johnny [Velazquez on Alterite] and we got to the lead, and then he never could catch up."
Entering Saturday’s race, Kitten’s Dumplings was coming off a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 17. Prior to that, she had rattled off three consecutive stakes wins in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs; the Grade 3 Regret Stakes, also at Churchill; and the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga. With a record of six wins from 12 starts, Kitten’s Dumpling now has career earnings of $691,262.
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Ken and Sarah Ramsey also earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with a win by Kitten Kaboodle in the Grade 3 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes on Wednesday at Keeneland. Positioned third early on, the Chad Brown trainee stalked pacesetter Zip On, took the lead in the stretch under jockey Alan Garcia and pulled away clear to win by 4 ¾ lengths.
Kitten Kaboodle earned her first career victory in the Jessamine, which was also the first race she ran for Brown. Previously trained by Wayne Catalano, she finished second in her two prior starts, both at Saratoga.
KITTEN KABOODLE STRIKES IN JESSAMINE
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
The Ramseys now have 38 stakes wins this year, far outpacing the total of the next-closest owners in the U.S. (three are tied with 10), and the couple’s 16 graded stakes wins this year are double that of Juddmonte Farms, which is next with eight.
In the final Breeders’ Cup Challenge race of the year, Phil’s Dream took the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday. The six-furlong turf race was a “Win and You’re In” for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Trained, owned and bred by Paul Buttigieg and ridden by Justin Stein, Canadian-bred Phil’s Dream is not Breeders’ Cup nominated and will not make the trip to Santa Anita in November, according to Woodbine.
Sent off as the 9-to-1 seventh betting choice, Phil’s Dream stalked the pace early as Fatal Bullet led the way through a half-mile in :46.47 before second-choice Longhunter took the lead entering the stretch. Longhunter did not have enough to hold off the charging Phil’s Dream, however, who took opened up to take it by two lengths in a final time of 1:10.83.
PHIL'S DREAM PREVAILS IN NEARCTIC
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
"He's a really nice horse, super talented," said Stein, who has ridden Phil's Dream in his past nine races, including seven wins. "I did have to sit and wait a little bit, but I had lots of horse to carry me to where I needed to be when it was time to ask him to run."
This was the third consecutive victory for Phil’s Dream, who also won the Overskate Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 22. With earnings now of $497,111, Phil’s Dream’s has won seven of 12 starts.
Za Approval completed the 1 1/8-mile turf race in 1:46.51, winning by a 1 ¼-length margin under jockey Joel Rosario. This was the third graded stakes victory for Za Approval, who has seven wins in 16 starts for earnings of $675,345.
ZA APPROVAL TAKES KNICKERBOCKER
Photo by Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Hidden Brook Farm’s and Dan Zucker’s Pianist got a win in the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes, also at Belmont on Saturday, by two lengths over runner-up Abaco. Sent off as the 2.95-to-1 second betting choice, Pianist went 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:39.94 under Jose Ortiz.
Trained by Brown, Pianist grabbed her third career stakes win and boosted her bankroll to $498,450 with six wins in 13 starts.
On Sunday at Belmont Park, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez passed fellow Hall of Famer Pat Day to become the all-time leading rider by North American purse earnings with $297,922,320. Velazquez was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2012 and picked up his milestone 5,000th career win in June at Belmont.