JC / Railbird


Classy Kat

A Beyer speed figure of 90 for Kathmanblu, winner of the one-mile Sweetest Chant over the Gulfstream grass on Saturday (replay). “It may be sacrilege to say,” tweeted @BH_MaidenWatch minutes after the race, “but Kathmanblu is starting to remind me of a former Maiden Watch horse named Rachel.” I’m not quite ready to commit myself like that, but the 3-year-old filly did deliver a classy, controlled performance in her first start of the year, neatly gaining ground and picking off rivals in the stretch, finishing 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Excited in 1:39.14 as the 1-2 favorite on a turf course labeled good.

[Jockey Julien Leparoux] said she was struggling with the turf, but she’s just that good,” said trainer Kenny McPeek. “I was never really worried,” said the rider. “Good horses run on everything and she’s clearly one of them.”

McPeek now faces the challenge of mapping Kathmanblu’s best route to the Kentucky Oaks. “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,” the trainer told Mike Welsch, indicating that a two-dirt race in February (possibly the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds) would most likely be the versatile filly’s next start, and that either the Gulfstream Oaks or the April 9 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland would be her final Oaks prep.

For the watch list: Check out Hout Bay, an impressive debut winner at Santa Anita on Saturday for trainer John Sadler. After breaking slowly and settling into a run at the rear, the 3-year-old Harlan’s Holiday filly flashed some late speed in the stretch, rallying to win race nine by 1 1/2 lengths … I’ve been following Madcap Escapade’s 2008 colt by AP Indy since he first popped up in training for Todd Pletcher at Belmont last July. After several weeks in which he didn’t appear in work reports, the half-sibling to stakes winner Mi Sueno turned up at Palm Meadows in November, where he’s been working steadily since, most recently over turf. And now he has a name — California. Could a start be near? … The 7-year-old Euroears looked like a different horse in his first start for trainer Bob Baffert, winning the six-furlong Palos Verdes in 1:07.23. Asked after the race if he had bet the horse, who hadn’t won since late 2009, Baffert replied, “When I saw he was 9-1, I had to take a shot.”

1/24/11 Addendum: Lecomte Stakes winner Wilkinson may wait for the Louisiana Derby, rather than start in the Risen Star, said trainer Neil Howard. Wilkinson was given a Beyer speed figure of 77 for the Lecomte — he’ll have to do better next out to be taken seriously as a Kentucky Derby contender.