Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Camelot Kitten made it two-for-two in blinkers in Saturday’s $200,000 Pennine Ridge (G3), the local prep for the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on July 9. But his neck decision was assisted by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.’s ground-saving trip, compared to the overland route taken by tough-beat runner-up Highland Sky.

The 9-5 favorite following a similarly advantageous passage in the May 7 American Turf (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, Camelot Kitten was the best fancied of trainer Chad Brown’s trio here. Call Provision, bet down to 6-1 off a 12-1 morning line, was stepping up from a debut maiden score versus state-breds. Conversely, Converge was friendless after his sixth in the American Turf, drifting from 6-1 up to 11-1.

The betting public sized up the Brown squad accurately, for Call Provision just missed in third, and Converge never landed a blow in a wide-trip seventh. According to Trakus, Converge covered the most ground in the Pennine Ridge, 54 feet more than the victorious Camelot Kitten. Yet he was beaten all of two lengths in a blanket finish, which won’t exactly put off any prospective rivals in the Belmont Derby.

The 101-1 (not a typo) Toughest ‘Ombre scampered to overtake Hammers Vision through an opening quarter in :23.02 and proceeded to open up. At this point, the timer began to go awry. The initially reported half in :47.90 was followed by an obviously wrong six-furlong split of 1:16.47 on firm turf.

Those were later corrected to :47.30 and 1:13.10 on the official chart. That proposes a very slow middle quarter. But note that Trakus reports a much more even tempo of :24.30, :48.54, and 1:12.55, which would seem to fit better the way the race unfolded. Trakus then projects the kind of quickening you’d expect to see, with a mile in 1:35.96 and the final nine-furlong time of 1:47.49. The official times are considerably slower for the mile split (1:37.15) and the final time (1:49.25).

Back to the action on the course, the field caught up to Toughest ‘Ombre in the stretch, with Hammers Vision the first on the premises. His bid was short-lived, for Camelot Kitten had angled out for clear sailing and was bearing down on him. Call Provision was also making headway, as was Highland Sky, who for some reason had already been committed to the outermost path entering the far turn. Adding to the frenetic finish, Toughest ‘Ombre lived up to his name by fighting back gamely on the inside, and they finished in a heap.

Camelot Kitten kept on best to come out on top, Highland Sky nosed out Call Provision for second, and Toughest ‘Ombre was another neck back in fourth. Call Provision and Toughest ‘Ombre were each getting six pounds from Camelot Kitten and Highland Sky. Hence the top two, among the co-highweights at 121 pounds, did especially well to concede the weight.

Hammers Vision weakened late as though the extra distance found him out. Dressed in Hermes, Converge, Azar, Kismet’s Heels, and Noble Quality concluded the order under the wire.

Camelot Kitten improved his record to 6-3-2-0, $398,520, including a second in last fall’s Bourbon (G3). The Kentucky-bred bay figures to do better in the Belmont Derby than his full brother, the speedy Bobby’s Kitten, who was eighth in the 2014 inaugural before going on to land the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

 

 

Photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography.