Within two hours of each other and across two time zones, a pair of Chad Brown trainees brought in $1.6 million for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey on Saturday.
Brown, a Mechanicville native, was at Saratoga Race Course to watch Big Blue Kitten win easily in the Grade I $600,000 Sword Dancer, then he watched the simulcast from Arlington Park as Real Solution won the Arlington Million after The Apache was disqualified on an objection after finishing a head ahead of Real Solution.
Getting the celebration started, jockey Joe Bravo guided Big Blue Kitten from post position 2 to the back of the 12-horse field through the first half-mile, but there was no rush.
“He got in a little bit of trouble, and he can probably tell you better about it, at the quarter pole,” Brown said. “How he got out, I don’t know, but he did.”
As they entered the far turn for the second and final time, Bravo started to rally the 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy (a half-brother to 4-year-old Real Solution, both bred by the Ramseys), and he quickly made strides on the field. He was in fourth with some running room entering the stretch, and was claiming the lead for good by the time he reached the sixteenth pole.
“Going that type of distance, he was really inside himself and very relaxed and very comfortable for the entire time,” Bravo said. “I was very ecstatic about the race. The happiest I was was turning for home. I’m looking at each rider in the race, and they’re riding them. I hadn’t even asked the Kitten yet.”
Brown said it was Bravo who talked him into running Big Blue Kitten in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park on July 6, a race that covers 13⁄8 miles, and Bravo rode him home to his first graded-stakes win by 11⁄4 lengths.
Big Blue Kitten was a coupled entry, joined with Stormy Lord, both owned by the meet-leading Ramseys.
Stormy Lord, trained by Mike Maker, set the pace through the first mile with fractions of 24.02, 49.80, 1:14.29 and 1:39.41. He yielded the lead entering the stretch as London Lane made a brief run before fading to finish sixth. Twilight Eclipse drove three-wide through the far turn and led briefly under pressure from Nutello in the stretch before Big Blue Kitten stormed through for the win.
With Big Blue Kitten breaking from post position 2, Brown knew there would be some traffic for Bravo to navigate.
“With that post, and there were some suspect horses around us, we said, ‘You’re going to get behind horses early that you’re going to need to pass at some point.’ ” Brown said. “Joe just said, ‘Well, I’ll work it out.’ And he did, and I wasn’t worried. Mr. Ramsey’s other horse set the pace for us, and I’m apprec-
iative of that. The trainer helped us out, Mike Maker and the whole team. He did a good job of going out there and setting the pace, and Joe did the rest.”
“I’m going to give all the thanks to Chad,” Bravo said. “For my trip, it was pretty relaxed and quiet the whole time. At the top of the lane, he had them horses come over on him a little bit. All I had to do was swing him out and get him clear, and he did the rest.”
Brown said he will probably run Big Blue Kitten just once before the Breeders’ Cup, but is unsure when or where that start would happen.
Despite finishing second, jockey Javier Castellano said Twilight Eclipse gave him the ride he wanted.
“I had a beautiful trip,” Castellano said. “In the beginning of the race, I was covered up right behind the pacemaker, and he did everything he could. I am very satisfied with the way he did it today, and unfortunately, he ran second best. But at the same time, I am very proud he did it so well.”
Another 13⁄4 lengths behind Twilight Eclipse, Nutello finished third, just getting a head in front of Tannery, a 30-1 filly who was racing against males, most of them older than the 4-year-old. Tannery raced the early part of her career in Ireland, where the practice is not unusual.
Big Blue Kitten returned $7.90, $4.30 and $3.50, while runner-up Twilight Eclipse returned $4.70 and $4.10. Nutello returned $6.40 to show.
The favorite, Boisterous, was under John Velazquez, so it was no surprise he was well-placed in the far turn. He was fifth and swinging out five-wide, but he had no late kick to challenge the strong-closing Big Blue Kitten and instead faded to finish eighth for Velazquez and trainer Shug McGaughey.
“I thought he was in perfect position the whole way,” McGaughey said. “He made a little run coming toward the quarter pole, but he just didn’t finish. He had been doing good. I don’t know what happened.”
“It’s always disappointed when they don’t run, and the way he ran was poor,” Velazquez said. “Perfect trip, we just didn’t come up with any run at all.”
The pacesetter through the first mile, Stormy Lord, dropped through the stretch to finish 11th of 12. Optimizer, who has run the last two years without a freshening but still hit the wire first in a trio of Grade III races, was eased in the backstretch and walked off.
In the Arlington Million, The Apache was disqualified to second for bumping Real Solution three times in the final 200 yards.
Ridden by Alan Garcia, Real Solution was on the outside of The Apache as they came down the stretch. The Apache was on the rail, but ended up about four lanes outside, bumping Real Solution three times in the process before The Apache, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, beat Real Solution to the wire by a head.
Garcia and Brown filed an objection, and after six minutes, the objection was upheld.
The 4-year-old Real Solution ran 11⁄4 miles on the turf in 2:00.99.
Side Glance finished third.