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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Fresh off a course-record performance last time out, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Smokem Kitten captured his first stakes victory Saturday at Gulfstream Park while showing the way to seven rivals throughout the $100,000 Miami Mile (G3).
The 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, who set a 7 ½-furlong turf course record to defeat optional claiming allowance runners by 5 ½ lengths March 20, showed no ill effects from such a brilliant performance while moving back into stakes company Saturday. The Mike Maker-trained Kentucky-bred colt held on to register his third triumph in five career starts (all over Gulfstream’s turf course), scoring by a head over late-running Middleburg.
Smokem Kitten, who ran 7 ½ furlongs in 1:26.78 in his previous start, set fractions of 23.89 (seconds), 46.75, 1:09.83 for six furlongs on his way to a 1:33.01 clocking for the mile over a firm turf course.
“I’m very impressed,” Maker’s Gulfstream Park assistant Evelio Chavez said. “After he broke the track record last time, I asked Mike, ‘What’s next for him?’ He said, ‘I’ll have to think about it, but probably the Miami Mile. Let’s get him ready for that one.’”
And ready the 9-5 favorite was for Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado’s return to the flashy gray colt’s saddle.
“He was acting very sharp in the post parade. When he broke so sharp and got the lead so easy, I didn’t want to fight him,” Prado said. “He was moving along so good every step of the way. At the top of the stretch, he found another gear.”
Prado had ridden Smokem Kitten twice previously, guiding him to a 5 ½-length debut victory Dec. 6, 2014, before finishing sixth in the Dania Beach (G3) a month later.
“I rode him twice before. I rode him when he broke his maiden. I was impressed with that race. The second time, I think there was something wrong with him,” Prado said. “Now, I think he is 100 percent.”
Smokem Kitten returned from a 13-month layoff Feb. 14, fading to seventh after making a sharp middle move under Javier Castellano, setting up his track-record performance under John Velazquez last time out.
“Mike took the blinkers off, and that’s made all the difference. He’s much more relaxed,” Chavez said.
Middleburg, the 2-1 second choice who made a strong three-wide stretch drive under Joe Bravo, finished a neck ahead of Hothersal and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
Crash Management and D J Stable’s Cali Thirty Seven ($7.20) opened a clear early lead under Joe Bravo and continued on to register a 1 ¼-length triumph in the co-featured $100,000 Powder Break at Gulfstream.
The Joe Orseno-trained 4-year-old filly had previously captured an optional claiming allowance by 3 ½ lengths at Gulfstream in her 2016 debut.
“I’ve always knew she had talent. Every race gets better. This race was better than the last. She got away from some nice horses today,” Orseno said. “I’m very happy with her.”
Cali Thirty Seven ran a mile on turf in 1:33.83 to win for the fourth time in 12 career races.
Notte d’Oro finished second under Tyler Gaffalione, three-quarters of a length ahead of late-closing Susie Bee and Edgar Prado.
Evelio Chavez, Assistant to Trainer Mike Maker (Smokem Kitten): “I’m very impressed. After he broke the track record last time, I asked Mike, ‘What’s next for him?’ He said, I’ll have to think about it, but probably the Miami Mile. Let’s get him ready for that one.’
“Mike took the blinkers off, and that’s made all the difference. He’s much more relaxed.”
Jockey Edgar Prado (Smokem Kitten): “He was acting very sharp in the post parade. When he broke so sharp and got the lead so easy, I didn’t want to fight him. He was moving along so good every step of the way. At the top of the stretch, he found another gear.
“I rode him twice before. I rode him when he broke his maiden. I was impressed with that race. The second time, I think there was something wrong with him. Now, he is 100 percent.”
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