Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Camelot Kitten surged along the hedge to outduel Beach Patrol by a head to win the 25th running of the $300,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (GII) for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Camelot Kitten covered the mile and a sixteenth on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:41.13. It was the second victory in the American Turf for Brown, who saddled Noble Tune for the win in the 2013 running.
Favored Airoforce set the pace with a first quarter-mile in :23.27 and was joined in the run down the backside by Shakhimat as they surged through the half-mile in :46.51.
The top two continued to duel to the head of the stretch where they were joined by Beach Patrol who took the advantage in upper stretch. However, Ortiz sent Camelot Kitten through along the inside and prevailed in a prolonged stretch duel.
The victory, the first stakes victory for Camelot Kitten, was worth $171,120 and increased the colt’s earnings to $278,520 with a record of 5-2-2-0. Camelot is a son of Kitten’s Joy out of the Forestry mare Celestial Woods.
Camelot Kitten rewarded his backers with payoffs of $39.40, $16.80 and $11.80. Beach Patrol, ridden by Flavien Prat, returned $7.40 and $5.60 with Surgical Strike finishing 2 ¼ lengths back in third under Luis Saez and paying $7.20 to show.
Airoforce was another half-length back in fourth and followed in order by Azar, Converge, Dressed in Hermes, J R’s Holiday, Shakhimat, American Patriot, Two Step Time, Cutacorner and Frank Conversation.
Irad Ortiz Jr. (rider of Camelot Kitten, winner) – “He brought his race today. He fought back with that other horse (Beach Patrol). The trainer had him ready. He saw that horse and he fought with him.”
Chad Brown (trainer of Camelot Kitten, winner) – “He (Irad Ortiz, Jr.) worked out a really good trip from that post position and we made the equipment change and put blinkers on the horse. He’s a horse that always had trained really well like a top-level stake horse and then in the afternoons I felt like we weren’t really getting everything out of him. We tried to put the blinkers on him, he worked really big here at Churchill last week and combined with Irad’s great ride it made the difference.”
Q: On time off following the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (12th)
“He didn’t fire that day at Keeneland for whatever reason. I know it was soft but he was a little over the top and had a little too much at two, but we let him catch his breath and set him up for a good year this year if he’s good enough and so far he’s made the most of his starts and ran well both times. He’s a full brother to Bobby’s Kitten but he’s a different kind of horse, he looks totally different. He’s a lighter framed, leggier horse that looks like he’ll run on a bit. I’m not exactly sure what that ceiling is but I think he’ll run beyond a mile and a sixteenth so we’ll probably inch him out.”
Q: Would you consider starting in the Belmont Derby ((GI) July 9)?
“It would be a hope, I don’t know at this point if he could go that far or if he’s good enough, but this was a real good race today, he showed a lot of heart. He only had one start with blinkers and he won and I think he beat a really nice horse (Beach Patrol) in that photo from California, that horse looks promising. Maybe try him at a mile and an eighth in a race like the ($200,000) Pennine Ridge ((GIII, June 4) next time out if he comes out of it OK, and if he does then sure, we’ll try something like the (Belmont) Derby.”
Flavien Prat (rider of Beach Patrol, runner-up) – “It was a really good race for him. We were in the right spot. The pace was good for us. But that winner, he came up the inside and just outdid us. What can you do? That’s the race.”
Luis Saez (rider of Surgical Strike, third-place finisher) – "He was trying, coming running. When we got to the stretch, I thought we would be there, but those other two horses were fighting and kept going. It was a tough race. Every horse was a good horse. He ran well. I like how he ran.''