Big Blue Kitten, above winning the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes in 2012 at Saratoga, punched his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Turf. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
Big Blue Kitten became the first horse in North America to earn a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday when he won the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park.
The United Nations was the first “Win and You’re In” challenge series event for the Breeders’ Cup Turf in North America and the fourth “Win and You’re In” event overall. The victory was the first Grade 1 win for Big Blue Kitten and the second graded stakes victory for the colt.
Big Blue Kitten showed his potential when he won five of his first six races as a 3-year-old, including a Grade 2 race. The now 5-year-old by Kitten’s Joy started out in the claiming ranks, running for a tag in his first three starts, but thankfully for his owners-breeders, no one claimed the bay.
As a 4-year-old, Big Blue Kitten ran into some tough competition while trying to win his second graded stakes race, hitting the board in two American stakes but finishing behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan and multiple Grade 1 winner Get Stormy in his two attempts. Traveling to Royal Ascot for their famed meet didn’t help the colt either as he finished 10th behind Australian champion So You Think in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
In 2013, Big Blue Kitten has shown that he is ready for the step up needed to become a major player in the American turf division.
While he finished third in his 2013 debut, he has won three of his four starts since then. His only blip in those four starts came in the Monmouth Stakes when he finished second to multiple graded stakes winner Boisterous. Even though he lost the race, he broke the 110 mark with his Equibase Speed Figure for the first time, earning a 114.
Big Blue Kitten’s Grade 1 win over the weekend is definitely the highlight of his 16-race career. Not only did he tie the 114 figure he earned in June, he also defeated four graded stakes winners including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike.
“I don’t know where we’ll go next yet, I will speak to Mr. Ramsey about it,” said trainer Chad Brown after the race. “I’m sure we’ll take a look at the Arlington Million, I wouldn’t be opposed to going a mile and a half in the Sword Dancer, or cutting back for the Arlington Million. He’ll head back to his base at Saratoga tonight and we’ll wait and see.”
The 5-year-old nearly doubled his earnings with the $300,000 he earned in the United Nations, taking his career earnings to $698,530 with the majority of that money coming from races he’s run in this year.
BIG BLUE KITTEN AFTER WINNING THE UNITED NATIONS STAKES
Courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Big Blue Kitten is one of three Grade 1 winners in 2013 for Kitten’s Joy. Kitten’s Joy has had major success as a sire with only five crops of racing age. Known as the sire of many of the “kittens” running in the United States, his most famous foal may be Stephanie’s Kitten, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2011.
The 2004 champion turf male, Kitten’s Joy is the sire of two champions and 35 stakes winners from 324 starters. His progeny has earned nearly $5 million in purse earnings so far this year. He sits sixth on the leading general sire list behind the sires of two Dubai World Cup festival winners and the sire of Orb.
Big Blue Kitten’s breeders, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, were smart when it came to finding good matches for Kitten’s Joy and Big Blue Kitten’s dam, Spent Gold, is no exception. While Ken Ramsey claimed Spent Gold in 1999, two years before the stallion was bred, she is typical of the mares he sent to his stallion in Kitten’s Joy’s first years at stud.
Spent Gold raced three times, only hitting the board in one of those starts and retiring after Ramsey claimed her. While her race record wasn’t impressive, her pedigree is, with each of her first four dams producing at least one stakes winner. Her family includes juvenile champion Stevie Wonderboy and international Group 1 winner Istidaad among other recognizable names.
The Ramseys aren’t owners who duck a race, so if Big Blue Kitten is healthy in the fall, it’s a fair bet you will see the Ramsey entourage at Santa Anita on November 2. If Big Blue Kitten wins the Breeders’ Cup Turf, it will be a good retribution for his sire, who won nearly everything he entered in 2004 before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.