Richard Migliore stopped Ken Ramsey at the step of the winner’s circle after the P.G. Johnson.
“Can I meet you for an interview?” Migliore said.
“That broke the record, you know?” Ramsey said in response.
Yes, Ken, we know.
Granny Mc’s Kitten secured the P.G. Johnson and the 19th win for Ramsey and his wife Sarah, eclipsing the record for most wins at the Saratoga meet set in 2007 by Zayat Stable.
Ramsey predicted 20 wins and the title. He’ll get both.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Javier Castellano, the 2-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy (who else?) rallied from third to win by 1 ¾ lengths over Duff One and pacesetter Miss Frost. The bay filly finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.07.
The winner disappointed Brown and Ramsey in her debut, failing to catch Miss Frost by a nose. Trainer and owner conferred and aimed the maiden at the $100,000 stakes. She went off second choice behind Brown’s Le Reine Bourbon, who failed to threaten, winding up last in the field of six.
Aboard for the first time, Castellano cajoled Granny Mc’s Kitten into a stalking spot in third, along the hedge of the Mellon Turf as Miss Frost cleared from the outside post. Candy Kitty found a spot in second as Le Reine Bourbon sat three wide in fourth and Duff One and Chase My Tail settled near the back.
Miss Frost posted the first quarter in 23.25 and a half in 47.47. Around the turn, Miss Frost carried Candy Kitty who stayed to her outside. All the while, Castellano waited for a seam between the only two horses in front of him. Miss Frost hung tough and Candy Kitty hung, it opened and it was over. Castellano nudged, pumped, waved, slapped five times and put the stakes win and the owner’s record in the bank.
“Beautiful spot, just keep track of those two horses, turning for home, I see the two horses drift, I find my spot and she took off. Dream trip,” Castellano said. “Chad didn’t tell me much today, he gave me the green light, ride your race, the Kitten’s Joy don’t want to be on the lead or too close to the pace. But with the turf course, the way it’s playing, you need to be a little closer to the pace.”
Joel Rosario partnered Granny Mc’s Kitten in her debut July 28. She broke poorly, raced wide, rallied, then hung, failing failed to put away Miss Frost when she had every chance.
Castellano watched it – twice.
“I remembered her first race, I rode the race, I was the favorite and she was the second choice, I watched her the whole time. Just to freshen it up in my mind, I watched the replay on the computer, it’s exactly what I thought,” Castellano said. “She was kind of keen today because I helped her out of the gate a little bit, the first time she ran, she stand still a little bit when they broke, I wanted to be a little closer to the pace this time.”
Brown was disappointed in her debut loss. She trained like one of his better 2-year-olds but failed to put it together.
“Off her works, all the pieces were in place except she just didn’t win the first time and she ran a little greener than I anticipated. She just did some moves that had me second-guessing myself a little bit of how ready I had her and how good she was,” Brown said. “From her debut to today, she was training sharp, I said she’s going to have to fool me twice, and she didn’t this time.”
Ramsey and Brown conferred about the Johnson and decided to take a shot with a maiden. It worked last year when Brown won the With Anticipation (the male counterpart) with Balance The Books. Brown likes his 2-year-olds to settle and make a run, especially on the turf. Win or lose, they tend to learn something.
“Handicappers know I’d rather have my horses settle and come with my run and teach them a little something, especially on the turf. This filly learned quite a bit from her first race,” Brown said. “I told Ken that and he said it’s worth taking a shot with a maiden if you really like her, we took a shot and it worked out.”
If you know Ramsey, he might have been doing some telling as well. Brown met Ramsey when he worked for Bobby Frankel and sent horses to Brown went he went on his own in 2007. Ramsey owned Brown’s first career winner, Dual Jewels. The gelding won a $5,000 claimer at Churchill Downs Nov. 23, 2007.
Asked about the key to his success, Brown didn’t hesitate.
“Passion. He’s so interested in the game, he’s so interested in doing well, when you have an owner that passionate about the game and his horses, it can’t help but motivate you in the morning. You feed off of it,” Brown said. “Yeah, he’ll push you, he’ll push you in some directions you might not really want to go, but you know what, when I look back, he’s just so passionate about it and so driven to win, it motivates you.”