Bloom Racing Stable's Henley's Joy, a multiple stakes winner whose only losses have come in graded-stakes, looks to maintain his juvenile form as he makes his sophomore debut in a race named for his sire, Saturday's $100,000 Kitten's Joy at Gulfstream Park.
The seventh running of the Kitten's Joy for 3-year-olds and the eighth renewal of the Ginger Brew for 3-year-old fillies, both at 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass, are among five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on an 11-race program that begins at noon.
Bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who also bred and raced turf champion Kitten's Joy and have seen him develop into one of racing's most prolific and successful sires, Henley's Joy is coming off a dominating 4 1/2-length triumph in the one-mile Pulpit Stakes Dec. 8 on the grass at Gulfstream. It was his third win from five 2018 starts and second stakes victory, following the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Sept. 1 in his second career outing. A July 21 debut winner at Ellis Park, he was second by a nose in his subsequent outing, the Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland.
"He was a colt we were very high on," trainer Mike Maker said. "We just wanted to let him develop for his first start instead of taking him to Saratoga and let the heavy heads duke it out there. I was just glad that he proved me correct."
2019 Kitten's Joy Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 9 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:10 PM
|1||Royal Urn||15-1||Leonel Reyes
|3||Moon Colony||8-1||Jose Ortiz
|4||Stirling Drive||30-1||Emisael Jaramillo
|5||Casa Creed||20-1||John Velazquez
|6||Bourbon in May||10-1||Luis Saez
|7||Louder Than Bombs||6-1||Paco Lopez
|8||Dakota's Dude||8-1||Nik Juarez
|9||Henley's Joy||3-5||Tyler Gaffalione
Following the Bourbon, Henley's Joy found himself in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), contested over a yielding course Nov. 2, and wound up well back after racing between horses early. He bounced back in the Pulpit to defeat a field that included stakes winner Louder than Bombs and Stirling Drive, who each return in the Kitten's Joy.
"The last race was another huge effort from him. After that race, he's pretty sharp," Maker said. "He was very successful as a 2-year-old and hopefully we can keep the fun rolling in his 3-year-old year."
Regular rider Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard from outside Post 9 at 120 pounds.
Sandra New's Louder Than Bombs raced near the back of the pack in the Pulpit, making a strong late run to be third, just a neck out of second. It marked the Violence colt's return to the turf after finishing sixth in the Street Sense Stakes Nov. 2 on the Breeders' Cup undercard.
"He didn't run a bad race last time. I think he just got a little too far back and had too much to do, but he ran well," trainer David Fawkes said. "Plus he had the ship back from Kentucky, so with that and the last race I expect him to run better this time."
Late-running Louder Than Bombs finished fourth behind Kitten's Joy rival Dakota's Dude in the Proud Man Stakes Sept. 1 at Gulfstream - his last time racing shorter than one mile - then was a two-length winner of the Armed Forces Stakes four weeks later.
"We have to hope for a lively pace, but you're more likely to get that going shorter," Fawkes said. "He's doing great. He's cutting back a little but he broke his maiden at the distance so it shouldn't be an issue."
Paco Lopez will ride from Post 7 at 120 pounds.
John Oxley's Moon Colony will make his sixth career start and first in a stakes in the Kitten's Joy, a race trainer Mark Casse captured last year with Grade 3 winner Flameaway. By champion Uncle Mo out of the Carson City mare Promenade Girl, Moon Colony is a half-brother to Cavorting, a three-time Grade 1 winner of more than $2 million in purses.
Moon Colony won two of five starts at 2, both on grass, capping his season with a two-length triumph in an entry-level optional claiming allowance Nov. 29 on the Fair Grounds turf. He has not sprinted since finishing fourth in a six-furlong maiden special weight Aug. 4 on the dirt at Saratoga, his career debut.
"He's got a huge pedigree. He seems to have a real liking for the turf. His last start he was a little rank early, settled and then had a real powerful punch. We brought him here to give him a try," Casse said. "He just won impressively in New Orleans. We brought him to our training center in Ocala and he's training extremely well. I would expect him to run well."
Rounding out the field are Bourbon in May, a Gulfstream maiden winner Dec. 1; Dakota's Dude; Royal Urn, an Oct. 25 winner at Gulfstream Park West in his only previous turf try; Casa Creed, Shazier and Stirling Drive.