Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, July 13, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/13/2013 #
  • Bold Kitten

In Today's Notes: Bold Kitten Leads Home Team Noms for Arlington Oaks; Martinez on Fire Friday Afternoon

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Bold Kitten, a 10-1 upset winner of the restricted Purple Violet Stakes June 1, leads the nominations for the July 20 Grade III $150,000 Arlington Oaks – the centerpiece for sophomore fillies at Arlington International Racecourse. In the Purple Violet – the same stakes La Tia won en route to Arlington Oaks success in 2012 – the daughter of Kitten's Joy out-gamed Timothy J. Keeley's 3-5 favorite My Option by a half-length.

Trained by meet leading conditioner Wayne Catalano, Bold Kitten should not only appreciate the additional furlong and second turn, but also seems to be relishing the change to Polytrack. On July 2, she impressed the clockers with a razor-sharp five-furlong move in :59.4.

If entered, favoritism might go to reigning Illinois Champion 2-Year-Old Filly My Option, who looks to avenge what was only the second defeat in her short five-race career. A little closer to the pace than usual in the Purple Violet, which included solid fractions of :46.71 and 1:10.93, the handsome Chris Block-trained gray homebred will appreciate the return to two turns and likely more relaxed tempo.

As a 2-year-old, My Option soundly defeated Bold Kitten and eight others in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante going 1 1/16-miles. She again defeated Bold Kitten in her 2013 debut, in the six-furlong Pretty Jenny Stakes. Both of those races were at Hawthorne Race Course.

One nominee who could vie for that favoritism if entered is another well regarded gray, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Tanourin Stable's Silsita. Trained by Todd Pletcher, America's leading trainer by purses earned who got his start as a groom at Arlington for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in 1987, Silsita is exiting a strong runner-up finish in the off-the-turf Astronomia Stakes on June 13 at Belmont over seven furlongs. Two races back, the daughter of Macho Uno ran the best race of her career over the Polytrack of Turfway Park in winning the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks over a two-turn mile. Her 99 Equibase Speed Figure that day is only one point below the 100 earned by Bold Kitten in the Purple Violet.

Two lightly raced fillies, Sky Girl and Frivolous, offer intrigue if their respective connections are ambitious enough to enter. Trained by Victoria Oliver for G. Watts Humphrey, Jr., Frivolous is a typical late-developing sort by Empire Maker who recently won a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on the grass. Though she would go off at long odds if entered, the filly has already proven dangerously consistent by never finishing out of the trifecta on three different surfaces and in fields of 10, 10, 11 and 12.

Mace and Samantha Siegel's successful Jay Em Ess Stable has nominated the talented Sky Girl. Trained by veteran Paul McGee, the dark bay filly recently decisively won both a maiden and allowance at Churchill Downs – the latter earning a respectable 94 Equibase Speed Figure in the slop. By synthetic track-friendly sire Sky Mesa and from a female family that screams two turns, Sky Girl could appreciate the nine-furlong Polytrack conditions of the Arlington Oaks for connections that, in 2006, teamed up to take down the Washington Park Handicap in track record time with Suave.

Jockey Seth Martinez, a winner of over 2,000 races in his career, had a huge day on Friday afternoon at Arlington. Not only did the ever-amiable journeyman win with three consecutive mounts, but he followed that hat trick up with a smashing second-place finish on 47-1 Thinking Showbiz in his last mount of the day in the eighth race. In fact, only one of his wins came with a horse remotely close to favoritism. His winning win payoffs were $10.60, $6.20 and $24.80, making him the value jockey play of the day.

Thinking Showbiz, though, was not a surprise to outrun his odds into the exacta, according to Martinez. "That horse was thumping before and having trouble breathing last time. You can feel it under you when they're almost panting for air. I knew he'd run better this time," he said after the eighth race. Martinez has not only been a great return on investment for bettors, but his earnings per win, $33,289, at the current meet are easily the best of any of the leading jockeys – which is even more impressive considering his 209 starts are the second most of any jockey at the meet.

Martinez's three Friday wins move him into a tie for sixth in victories (22) and place him in fourth in earnings ($732,362). He has seven rides Saturday, including a longshot chance in the Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes on Crown and Thistle Stable's Doctor Trotter for trainer Tammy Domenosky. As for his chances, he was, as always, very honest. "I always try to make the best of things. You just get on the horse and do your best and try to make a run," he said humbly.