SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Camelot Kitten went three-wide into the stretch and beat Airoforce by a nose in a thrilling finish to Friday’s 32nd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds on Saratoga Race Course’s inner turf.
With Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard, the Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey-owned bay colt stalked Giant Run’s poky fractions of 25.08, 49.17 and 1:12.88 before engaging the Mark Casse-trained Airoforce and battling through the final 16th to win the bob.
Camelot Kitten completed the 1 1/16-mile course in 1:41.76 for his third stakes victory this year, adding to his Grade 3 Pennine Ridge and the Grade 2 American Turf wins. He was coming off a fourth-place in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby on July 9 before making his Spa debut.
“He’s the kind of horse that after watching his replays you can tell he has gotten much better over time,” said Ortiz, who has won the National Museum Racing Hall of Fame three straight years. “He waits a little bit on horses so we couldn’t make the lead too early, so I waited and eased him into the race little by little. The last part I hit a few times coming into the turn and he was ready. He was jumping. I think he might be better at this distance but he’s a nice horse.”
Camelot Kitten, the 9-5 favorite, improved to 4-2-0 in eight career starts. He paid $5.80 on a $2 win wager and improved his career earnings to $603,520.
“I thought Irad worked out a really good trip,” said trainer Chad Brown, who has won all four graded turf stakes this year at the Spa. “The slow pace concerned me. The horse overcame a lot today. He didn’t run that long ago. It wasn’t a great rest between races. He came back and fired another good shot from a difficult post off a slow pace. I thought horse ran great.”
Camelot Kitten continued his successful run with blinkers on, winning for the third time in four starts.
“This horse has always shown a lot of talent but he just wasn’t finishing off his races the way he should,” said Brown, who won the race for a second straight year after saddling Takeover Target in 2015. “Since we put the blinkers on I think it’s his fourth great race in a row. It was the final piece of the puzzle for this particular horse.”
Airofoce, ridden by Julien Leparoux, held off Strike Midnight by three-quarters of a length for second.
Giant Run, Isotherm and Unbridled Daddy completed the order of finish. Copingaway was scratched.
The National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, located in Saratoga Springs, New York, will induct its 2016 class on August 12. Among the honorees will be horses Rachel Alexandra, Tom Ochiltree and Zenyatta, trainer Steve Asmuseen, jockeys Ramon Dominguez and Wayne D. Wright and “Pillars of the Turf” contributors Arthur Hancock, Jr. and William Woodward, Sr.