HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s Casa Creed made his turf debut count in a terrific way on Saturday, taking over in mid-stretch and fending off the ultra-classy Henley’s Joy late to win the seventh running of the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking cleanly from post 5 under John Velazquez at 12/1 odds, Casa Creed settled just off the early pace set by Royal Urn through opening fractions of :24.58 and :49.03. Drawing alongside the leader as they straightened for home, Velazquez set his steed down for the stretch drive, and the Bill Mott trainee responded strongly. Fending off a last-gasp challenge from the 3/5 favorite Henley’s Joy, Casa Creed hit the wire with a neck advantage in a final time of 1:30.64 for the 7 1/2-furlong sprint over the firm turf course.
“We had a good trip,” Velazquez said. “He broke well and we were right near the lead. We let the speed go. I just sat against him on the backstretch and waited, thinking the favorite was going to come from behind, so try to wait the best I can. When I let the horse run, he ran hard and, sure enough, the favorite was coming, but he put in a good fight and galloped out really well, so maybe this horse will be even better going longer.”
To say that Henley’s Joy had a less-than-ideal trip would be an understatement. Though clearly the class of the field, the bettors’ choice was unable to overcome racing wide through both turns and a lack of early speed, closing late to just take second by a neck over a very game Royal Urn. Slightly over a length behind them, Louder Than Bombs took fourth by a neck over a photo finish that went to Moon Colony by a head over Stirling Drive. Bourbon in May was a length further behind in seventh, while Shazier and Dakota’s Dude completed the order of finish.
Casa Creed’s win was his first since his maiden-breaking effort at Saratoga in August in a maiden special weight that was taken off of the turf. The 3-year-old son of Jimmy Creed, who finished off the board in his two previous stakes efforts (including the Grade 1 Champagne), improved his record to 5-2-0-0 with $111,408 in earnings.
“He left us scratching our heads a little,” said Mott assistant Ken McCarthy. “His last two dirt starts were awfully tough spots. Bill was just looking to change it up one time. He said, ‘Let’s try it and see what happens.’ We were just taking a shot, really. This gives him options down the road, but it seems to me maybe the turf is where we might now focus. We’ll never rule out anything with this horse.”
Casa Creed returned $27.40 to win, $8.80 to place, and $6.20 to show. Henley’s Joy brought back $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show, while Royal Urn paid $5.80 to show.