Big Blue Kitten Sets Course Record in Joe Hirsch Victory
Big Blue Kitten Sets Course Record in Joe Hirsch Victory: Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Big Blue Kitten will head to the Breeders’ Cup with a course record, his second Grade 1 victory of the year and an all-fees paid trip to Keeneland for the $3 million Turf under his belt after he held off stablemate Slumber to win the 39th running of the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, the 7-year-old homebred son of Kitten’s Joy sat midpack as another stablemate, Shining Copper, opened up by as many as 11 lengths as he led through fractions of 23.79, 47.18, 1:11.45 and 1:35.26. Moving up eagerly on the turn as Shining Copper’s lead evaporated, Big Blue Kitten took command and swung into the stretch with a three-length advantage, and had just enough left to stave off the late runs from Slumber and Twilight Eclipse and win by three-quarters of a length.
His time for the 1 ½ miles on the Widener turf was 2:23.29, almost a second faster than Fantastic Light’s 2001 mark of 2:24.36.
“He’s just such a good horse, so honest and puts you to it all,” said Bravo, who was aboard for Big Blue Kitten’s victory in July in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park. “You’re watching the pace, but it’s kind of nice to sit back and see the pace unfolding. The pace was sort of ‘stop go, stop go’ but at the top of the stretch, I said ‘go’ and he said ‘okay.’ I had my hands full with him but I thought. ‘hey, let them catch us now.’
“When it comes down to it, he’s an amazing horse and he deserves to hold a track record,” he added. “He’s done so good that he makes you look good.”
The victory was the third in five starts this year for Big Blue Kitten, who also won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May, as he goes for a second try in the 1 ½-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf, in which he finished eighth in 2013.
“The Breeders’ Cup is such a difficult event not only to get to, but to win,” said Brown, who saddled three Breeders’ Cup winners in 2014. “We’ve been very fortunate in the Breeders’ Cup. At this point, we’re trying to identify horses who are worthy of competing on the world stage, and then, from there, you’re extremely lucky if you’re able to win a race. So I’m not getting ahead of myself. We’re in the process, these last round of preps, of trying to identify horses who belong in the Breeders’ Cup. A horse like Big Blue Kitten would be one, and we have a big weekend of racing both here and at Keeneland next weekend.”
Sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the field of seven, Big Blue Kitten returned $7 for a $2 win bet. The winner’s purse of $360,000 boosted his bankroll to $2,636,830 and his career record stands at 14-8-4 from 29 starts.
Twilight Eclipse, who was nosed out for second, was 6 ¼ lengths in front of post-time favorite Red Rifle. Following him under the wire were Shining Copper, Perfect Title, and Quiet Force.
“He ran a good race,” said Javier Castellano, aboard the beaten favorite. “It was a good setup, no speed in the race. I just followed the pacesetter all the way, it just wasn’t his day today.”
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Replay Big Blue Kitten:
Source: NYRA Press