A close third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) earlier this month, KATHMANBLU proved her versatility by defeating six rivals on the main track in the $163,800 Golden Rod (gr. II) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs.
The daughter of Bluegrass Cat stalked the pace, entered three-wide into the lane, and ran away from everyone in the stretch while earning her first graded stakes victory. Making only her second start on dirt, the bay filly crossed the wire 8 1/2 lengths in front of runner-up Missyoulikecrazy and covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast going in 1:44.48.
Owned by Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables, KATHMANBLU was ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Ken McPeek. Leparoux gave KATHMANBLU an ideal trip, sitting in third while just off of pacesetter Gran Lioness, who ran opening splits of :24.28 and :48.85. Missyoulikecrazy raced in second.
KATHMANBLU made her winning bid rounding the final turn, took a commanding three-length lead into the final furlong, and sailed home for the easy victory. Suave Voir Faire rallied to get third.
“I had a good trip," Leparoux said. "She broke good; she was very relaxed laying third. And when I asked her she finished very good. I was riding her all the way. “I think she is a very good filly on the turf. And she proved today she can run on the dirt, too. We’ve got options.” McPeek was a little bit more decisive about KATHMANBLU's path. “She is now a big time (Kentucky) Oaks prospect," McPeek said. "She’s not a big filly; she is a little compact filly, and as the months go on she has gotten better and better. I’ll think she will keep going as a 3-year-old."
Bred in Kentucky by Five D Thoroughbreds, KATHMANBLU won for the third time in six starts and increased her earnings to $320,731. Prior to the Breeders’ Cup, she won the JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes by four lengths on the Keeneland turf course. She was runner-up in the P. G. Johnson Stakes on Saratoga’s grass this summer. Her only previous start on dirt was in her racing debut, an eighth-place finish back in June at Churchill.
The winner is out of the Devil’s Bag mare Abba Gold. "In the Breeders’ Cup she had a troubled trip; it seemed like not a whole lot went right that day," McPeek added. "Obviously she is a good, talented filly. This time of year we've got enough time to come back in three weeks here and you’re going to find out if they like this surface. She was doing well so there was no hesitation at all. "We will probably put her on the shelf for a while. At this point, we will take her to Gulfstream for the winter and take it one day at a time. She probably won’t run until late February or early March. I like to have two races in them before the Oaks.”