Brown Breeders' Cup-bound with Bobby's Kitten, Testa Rossi, others
By Jenny Kellner | 10/06/2013 07:16 PM ET
Just as he did in 2012, trainer Chad Brown swept both ends of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races for juvenile turf horses on Sunday at Belmont Park, taking the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim with Bobby's Kitten and the Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo for fillies with French import Testa Rossi.
Bobby's Kitten, the 9-5 favorite off a front-running maiden victory at Saratoga Race Course, got an early jump on the field of nine, but then settled in second to track Marvin's Miracle through an opening half-mile in 48.13 seconds, with three-quarters going in 1:12.26. Sent three-wide turning for home by jockey Javier Castellano, the homebred son of Kitten's Joy hit the top of the stretch with a five-length advantage that he widened to 6 ¼ lengths by the time he crossed under the wire in 1:42.37 for 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf course.
The win earned the Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred a fees-paid berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Santa Anita Park. He likely will be joined in that race by his stablemate, Shadow Banking, who finished second in the Pilgrim, a half-length in front of Captain's Affair.
"I'm taking them both if they are healthy," said Brown, who trains Shadow Banking for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence. "Second time out, we learned [Bobby's Kitten] was capable of leaving early and finishing. 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 thought [Shadow Banking] did well," he added of the Harlan's Holiday colt, who broke his maiden on September 11 at Belmont. "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."
Bobby's Kitten - who Brown said is named after his mentor and former boss, the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel - returned $5.70 for a $2 win bet. Now 2-0-1 from three starts, he has bankrolled $185,500.
Finishing fourth was Due Diligence, who was followed in turn by Blue Pigeon, Sheldon, Marvin's Miracle, Otoy, and Sandy Point.
Testa Rossi, making her first stakes start and her American debut, was content to bring up the rear through the early going of the Miss Grillo as long shot Echale Salsita towed the field of 11 fillies through an opening half mile in 47.35 seconds and three-quarters in 1:12.05. Given her cue by jockey Jose Lezcano at the three-sixteenths pole, Testa Rossi briskly galloped past the field once straightened away, and had just enough left to stave off the last-gasp charge from Sky Painter and win by a nose.
Her time for 1 1/16 miles over the firm Widener turf was 1:41.73.
"You never know until you run them," said Brown, who also saddled fourth-place finisher and beaten favorite Granny Mc's Kitten. "Testa Rossi's works were good - they weren't great - but you know what? She's a good-looking horse, she's got good form and every week she seems to be improving. I have a bunch of these fillies and I picked the two I thought would give me the best chance to win, and she was one of them."
The 5-1 third choice, Testa Rossi - a daughter of Dr Fong - paid $12.60 for a $2 win wager as she extended her winning streak to four. Owned by James Covello, Thomas Coleman and DMZ Racing Stable, she is now 4-1-0 from six starts with earnings of $175,439.
Testa Rossi's victory gave her a fees-paid trip to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, a race Brown won in its inaugural running in 2008 with Maram. Brown said he would also like to run Granny Mc's Kitten, winner of the P. G. Johnson at Saratoga, in the Breeders' Cup should she get in.
As well, Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the runner-up, Sky Painter, and third-place finisher Dancing House, said the Juvenile Fillies Turf was under consideration for his late-closing duo.
"Both of them ran very well," he said. "We're pleased with both. We were unlucky to lose a tough photo, but congratulations to the winning team. We'll talk about what's next."
Completing the order of finish behind Granny Mc's Kitten were Duff One, Morethanawarning, Echale Salsita, Miss Frost, Bikini Beauty, Selenite, and Sea Bubble.