On a chilly morning at Keeneland, trainer Chad Brown sent Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Toyota Blue Grass contender Bobby's Kitten through his final pre-race drill.
Keeneland clockers caught the sophomore son of Kitten's Joy going five furlongs in 1:00 ⅕ under exercise rider Marino Garcia April 5, although Brown had him a little slower in 1:00 ⅗.
"I thought he did it nice and easy. We've been working on getting that horse to relax and he's been doing real well," Brown said. "We've been working him by himself and he looked like he was real comfortable with the rider the whole way, so hopefully he's ready to go on Saturday."
Bobby's Kitten comes into the April 12 Blue Grass, prepping for the Kentucky Derby, off a wire-to-wire March 8 allowance victory going a mile over the lawn at Tampa Bay Downs. It was his season debut after a third in the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita Park.
"Pretty much since the Breeders' Cup last year, the [Blue Grass has been] the race we were going to point at and give him one prep to get him in there," Brown said. "We've been working on a couple things to get him settled a little bit and the horse has responded very well.
"So far his first race [of 2014] was fine and his works have been good, with no trouble behavior-wise. He's been going to the pole nice and easy."
Bobby's Kitten was the pacesetter in the Breeders' Cup Turf before being run down by Outstrip. He has earned all of his three victories from five starts with front-running tactics, although he had company in the Pilgrim Stakes last fall at Belmont Park when longshot Marvin's Miracle cut the pace on the inside while Bobby's Kitten attended to the three-quarters pole before drawing clear.
"I don't think he even needs to be on the lead in the Blue Grass," Brown said. "it depends on where we draw and who is in there but we worked him behind horses at Palm Meadows this winter and he switched off nicely. We've been doing everything we can, so hopefully it'll come together for him."
Brown also drilled multiple grade I winner Stephanie's Kitten for the Ramseys, the 5-year-old Kitten's Joy mare going five eighths in 1:01 ⅘ in company under exercise rider Kriss Bon. Transferred from trainer Wayne Catalano after a respite but still awaiting her debut for Brown, Stephanie's Kitten is pointing toward the April 12 Jenny Wiley. It will be her first start since a third in the July 27 Diana Stakes last summer at Saratoga Race Course.
"She was supposed to have her prep race for the Jenny Wiley in the Hillsborough at Tampa, but unfortunately about a week and a half before the race she kicked herself in her stall and one of her hind legs needed a couple staples," Brown said. "It just wasn't the right thing to do to lead her over there for that race. We had to just train her up to this race, which is hard to do, but she's a top horse and hopefully she'll come through off the layup."
Winner of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Stephanie's Kitten won the Longines Just a Game at Belmont last June and took the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs in May. She also has a victory on the Polytrack at Keeneland, having prefaced her Breeders' Cup victory with a win in the Darley Alcibiades as a 2-year-old. She is also the winner of the 2012 Edgewood Stakes and Woodford Reserve Lake Placid.