Sunday’s Grade 3 $150,000 Palm Beach is not a points race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, but morning line favorite Charming Kitten has the look of a three-year-old that might make his way into the starting gate in Louisville on the first Saturday of May.
The colt is the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Palm Beach. Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Todd Pletcher, the colt is coming off a win in the Kitten’s Joy on Jan. 20.
A win on Saturday could lead to the colt heading to a Derby prep, most likely the Grade 3 $500,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on Sat., Mar. 23, or the Grade 1 $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Sat., Apr. 13.
The colt is also looing to follow in the hoofsteps of his sire Kitten’s Joy, who won the Palm Beach in 2004.
“We considered trying to go to the Derby with Kitten’s Joy,” Ramsey said. “Jerry Bailey was riding him early that year and he said ‘He just doesn’t have the same kick on dirt,’ and recommended keeping him on turf. It turned out to be good advice. The Derby is very much on by bucket list and we’ll see how he does in the race Sunday and discuss the possibilities with Todd. We’ll do what’s right for the horse.”
One of his main rivals on Sunday will be the Gary Contessa trained Rydilluc, who will be making his stakes debut. The colt beat first level optional claimers in his last outing going a mile on turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 5.
Contessa also has not ruled out heading down the Derby Trail.
“He trained so good on dirt before his first start I thought he’d gallop, but he never even got involved,” Contessa said. “Then we said, ‘Maybe he’s a turf horse,’ and he was very impressive winning his second start. However, we still haven’t ruled out anything and he still could be on the Derby Trail. If things go well in the Palm Beach we’ll consider the Spiral Stakes 20 days later and I wouldn’t rule out the Blue Grass as a back-up.”
The 2010 Palm Beach winner Paddy O’Prado, trained by Dale Romans went on to run second in the Blue Grass and then was third in the Kentucky Derby.
The Spiral is worth 50 points to the winner, while the Blue Grass is part of the second leg of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series with 100 points to the winner and 40 points for the runner up.
It looks as if a horse is going to need somewhere between 40 and 50 points to get into the Kentucky Derby field if more than 20 are entered, which seems likely, at least at this point.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 10 The Palm Beach G3 (5:35 ET)
9 Charming Kitten 8-5
7 Quinzieme Monarque 8-1
5 Rydilluc 4-1
10 Holiday Star 12-1
Analysis: Charming Kitten is coming off a game victory in the Kitten’s Joy last out here. The colt tracked the early pace, battled on in the stretch and proved best late to win by a length as the chalk. The fifth place finisher Fire Guard came out of the race to win a first level optional claimer in impressive fashion on Feb. 9 here. Two back our top pick made his three year old debut in the Dania Beach, making a good late rally but coming up a half-length short of the winner Mystic Love. The fourth place finisher in that race as Itsmyluckyday, who won the Gulfstream park Derby and the Holy Bull (G3) in his next two starts. The Pletcher runner looks primed for a top effort third off the bench here. He has a couple of sibs that are also grass winners including stakes winner Queen’splatekitten ($387,313).
Quinzieme Monarque was a good looking maiden winner three back in September on the grass at Belmont Park, and then made a mild late run to finish fourth over yielding footing in the Pilgrim (G3) in his first go against winners. Last out he was outrun early and never a threat ton dirt in the Remsen (G2). He is back on turf here and sports a couple of solid looking works for his first go off a three month break. He is worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 10-1 morning line.
Rydilluc prompted the early pace and drew off smartly late to beat Alw-1 optional claimers last out in his first start against winners and is perfect in two trips over turf. The runner up in the race was Hansel Tazwell, who came back to beat starter optional claimers in his next outing. This guy looks better with each start and looks as if he fits well here in his stakes debut. He is out of the stakes winner Swift and Classy ($61,770) who has dropped four other winners including stakes winner Gold Wonder ($188,878).
WIN: #9 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 7,9 / 5,7,9,10
TRI: 7,9 / 5,7,9,10 / 4,5,7,9,10
Catch Derby Fever with Michael Dempsey’s Road to the Kentucky Derby Package! Subscribers receive ALL of Michael’s Saturday’s Reports now until the first Saturday of May. Included in the package is coverage of all of the major Derby preps, his Best Plays Report and his full card reports each Saturday! In addition this package includes his Kentucky Oaks Day and Kentucky Derby Day Reports!