Among Kitten's Joy's prolific progeny is Chief Kitten, a 3-year-old gelding that can uphold the family tradition in Saturday’s third running of the Kitten’s Joy on turf at Gulfstream Park.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey, whose lives have changed with Kitten's Joy, won the 2013 debut of Gulfstream’s namesake race with another of his sons, Charming Kitten.
Bred by the Ramseys in New York, Chief Kitten is trained by Chad Brown, who captured last year’s Kitten’s Joy with Storming Inti.
“I can see this horse turning into a nice horse,” Brown said. “He’s a New York-bred, which gives us something to fall back on when we head back up to New York later this year. He’s already shown the ability to win a stakes in open company, so we think he’s a nice horse all the way around.”
Chief Kitten began his career last summer running second in his debut at Saratoga and breaking his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths a month later, both against state-breds. He finished off the board following a slow start and wide trip in the Bourbon at Keeneland, but bounced back to end his juvenile season winning the Pulpit Stakes by a nose under Edgard Zayas on Nov. 29 at Gulfstream Park West.
“I thought he showed a lot of courage in that race,” Brown said. “He split horses, and I thought Zayas gave him a really good ride. He seems to have been training well since the race, so we’re looking forward to running him.”
Chief Kitten is undefeated going a mile on the grass, with both his maiden and stakes wins coming at the distance.
“He probably wants to run a bit further than that, but he can run a mile,” Brown said. “We wanted to give him a little time between starts, and this seems like a logical spot for him.”
A hard-luck second in the Pulpit, Croninthebarbarian will be making his second start of the year in the Kitten’s Joy, three weeks after rallying to be third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the 7 1/2-furlong Dania Beach at Gulfstream.
“The horse came out of the race great,” said Zack Simms, son and assistant to trainer Garry Simms. “He’s 100 percent right now. We just figured it’s a good spot for him, so why not go?”
Owned by Ol Memorial Stable, whose partners include Rick Pitino and Outback Steakhouse founder Chris Sullivan of Tampa, Croninthebarbarian won the seven-furlong Kentucky Downs Juvenile and was sixth in the Bourbon, a neck ahead of Chief Kitten.
“He’s tiny. really small,” Zack Simms said. “He’s a really small horse, but he’s got heart. That’s something that can’t be bought. You’d think with a name like that he’d be a big, strapping horse. He’s got a really big run. He’ll give you his one big run and, last time, he was just a little light for that run.”
Simms, 22, has taken over training duties for his 63-year-old father, a veteran Kentucky horseman who has been battling bone cancer since his diagnosis in December 2009.
“He’s like Cronin; he’s got a lot of heart,” Simms said of his father. “Sometimes that can carry them farther than one might think.”
Bred and raced in England, Dr No made his North American debut on Dec. 20 at Gulfstream, coming from off the pace to run fourth by two lengths in a one-mile optional claiming allowance over the turf course.
“I thought for his first run over here, it was a really good effort,” trainer Graham Motion said. “He didn’t have a great trip at all. He came out of the race great, and I think he’ll probably improve. It was the first race over here for a European horse, so often they improve the next time.”
Trainer Dale Romans entered two horses for the Kitten’s Joy, Bravo Charlie and Stefochop. Bravo Charlie broke his maiden going a mile on the Gulfstream turf at odds of 14-1 on Jan. 3, while Stefochop will be making his North American debut after four starts last year in his native France.
Rounding out the field are Florida Sire Affirmed Stakes winner Twotwentyfive A; Mostly Mozart, fifth in the Jan. 3 Dania Beach; Dubai Sky, a winner of two straight; Courtier, Eh Cumpari, Felifran and Ode to the Hunt.
Edited Gulfstream Park release