By Mike Welsch for drf.com
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Kathmanblu asserted her class through the stretch, outfinishing Excited by 1 1/4 lengths to register a popular victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream Park. What was even more encouraging for trainer Ken McPeek was jockey Julien Leparoux’s comment after the race.
“She can do better than that!”
The versatile Kathmanblu, who closed out her 2-year-old campaign sandwiching stakes wins in the Jessamine and Grade 2 Golden Rod around a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, was confidently ridden by Leparoux in the Sweetest Chant, a one-mile turf race. Rating well off the early pace of War Prospector, Kathmanblu commenced her rally leaving the backstretch, hooked up with Excited in early stretch and, after running past the tiring leader nearing the furlong marker, gradually asserted her superiority to edge clear at the end.
Excited was easily second best, finishing nearly 11 lengths in front of Nina Fever and Holidaysatthefarm who dead-heated for third.
Kathmanblu completed the distance in 1:39.14 seconds over the “good” course and returned $3.
“Julien said she really struggled over the ground,” said McPeek, who had already saddled two other winners on the card.
“You probably won’t see her on the grass again for a while.”
McPeek said he’d like to find a two-turn race on the dirt in February for Kathmanblu’s next start, which means her next appearance would likely come out of town.
“I hate to disappoint Gulfstream but the only two-turn stakes they have for her is the Oaks in April and I don’t want to wait that long,” said McPeek, who indicated the Gulfstream Park Oaks or the Ashland at Keeneland would be Kathmanblu’s final prep prior to her main goal, the Kentucky Oaks, on May 6.