Arlington Million

Barn Notes: Thursday, August 01, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/01/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Stephanie’s Kitten “Leaning To” Beverly D.; Arlington Infants: Thursday, Aug. 1 Preview

Breeders’ Cup and two-time Grade I winner Stephanie’s Kitten is being considered for the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes, according to leading Arlington International Racecourse trainer Wayne Catalano.  The Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey Stable homebred daughter of their flagship stallion Kitten’s Joy has earned $1,640,404 for her connections and comes off a troubled third at odds of 3-2 in the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

"She came out really good.  The race doesn’t look like it took too much out of her,” reported Catalano.  After a troublesome beginning, Stephanie’s Kitten was forced to close from last of the five contestants into a dawdling pace.  Unable to get to the winner, the bay 4-year-old filly finished a hard-charging third – beaten only half a length by two horses to whom she gave five pounds, each. 

“Things didn't set up right.  She didn't break good and it kind of cost us the race,” her conditioner explained.  Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who has ridden the filly in eight of her 13 starts (and five of her seven victories), the winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf looks able to come back in three weeks. 

“We are leaning toward Beverly D. with her,” Catalano continued.  The Beverly D. would be a homecoming for the filly, who ran her first two races and broke her maiden at the Arlington Heights oval in the summer of 2011.  This time, though, she would be returning a much faster and fitter animal – as proven by her first two starts of 2013 in which she earned the highest two turf route Beyer Speed Figures (100 and 101) of any filly or mare in the country. 

As far as her ability to handle the mile and three-sixteenths distance of Arlington’s marquee event for fillies and mares – a sixteenth of a mile farther than she has ever raced – the 10-time Arlington training title winner has reason to be confident.  “She went the last eighth in :10 3/5 in the Diana - not too many horses can do that.”

Armando De La Cerda has a good looking filly to debut today at Arlington International Racecourse in the third race, a maiden special weight at 5½ furlongs on the Polytrack main course.  A daughter of promising freshman sire Two Step Salsa – already a sire of an impressive Churchill Downs maiden winner and stakes-placed juvenile Conquest Two Step – out of the unraced Strong Hope mare Sleeping Bird, Tamazula has been impressing her conditioner. “She is probably one work away from being perfect, but I really like her.  She’s very fast – very talented,” De La Cerda said. 

Two Step Salsa was an outstanding miler who earned that title by defeating some of the world’s best dirt milers in the Group II Godolphin Mile at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse on the Dubai World Cup undercard in 2009.  In the previous year, the son of Louisiana and Ohio Derby winner Petionville won the Grade III Affirmed Handicap and Grade III Lazaro Barrera Stakes – both at Hollywood Park – before finishing a good third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. 

Sleeping Bird is by Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes winner Strong Hope, who later went on to be one of the best dirt milers of 2004 when third in the Grade I Metropolitan Mile Handicap.  Sleeping Bird’s dam was the well regarded filly How So Oiseau, who won Grade II Sorrento Stakes as a juvenile at Del Mar before finishing a good second to the lightning fast Call Now in the Grade II Del Mar Debutante – a race in which champion Serena’s Song finished fourth. 

Another interesting entrant in the maiden special weight, from a pedigree point of view, is Miss Fire (from the barn of Mike Dini).  A daughter of one of the best stallion values in America, Successful Appeal, Miss Fire is out of the unraced Irgun mare, Irgun’s Delite.  Successful Appeal was a blatant sprinter who had the misfortune of being born within a generation that saw him race against some of the fastest horses America has seen in the past 20 years – Artax, Kona Gold, Stravinsky and Forestry.  As a stallion, Successful Appeal has outlasted his sprint-laden pedigree by producing Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument, as well as current campaigners Successful Dan and Successful Song.  His offspring particularly do well early in their careers, so it would not be a surprise to see Miss Fire carry through with that trend. 

Irgun’s Delite is by Irgun, who had a short-lived but successful racing career that ended after he won both the Grade II Gotham Stakes and Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.  Irgun’s Delite’s dam is Sparkling Delite who is by Vice Regent, the best son of Northern Dancer to ever stand in Canada (13-time leading sire) and a solid producer of juvenile winners, including Deputy Minister and Regal Classic, and older Grade I-winning campaigners Twice the Vice and Bounding Away.  As far as Vice Regent’s influence as a damsire, he may have been even better.  His grandchildren include Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Boston Harbor, Canadian Horse of the Year Benburb, Belmont Stakes winner and Eclipse Champion Older Horse Victory Gallop and Dubai World Cup winner Captain Steve.