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Granny's Kitten Makes the Grade in Col. E. R. Bradley; Holy Boss, Hawaakom Land Saturday Stakes Wins

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Granny’s Kitten earned his first career graded stakes win when taking down the first graded stakes race on the Fair Grounds racing calendar in Saturday’s Grade III $125,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone.

Settled comfortably in mid-pack by jockey Miguel Mena, the Mike Maker trainee was always in range behind splits of 23.77, 48.80 and 1:12.85 set by eventual runner-up Western Reserve. Asked to quicken into the stretch, the winner engaged the leader at the top of the lane and prevailed by a neck after a prolonged stretch battle, stopping the clock in 1:43.61 for the 1 1/16-miles trip over a soft Stall-Wilson turf course.

“Last time out it was a soft first quarter of a mile and today I hustled him out of there and 23 and change was better than the last race,” Mena said. “We had a great trip. Chocolate Ride pressed his partner around the turn and then we fought hard.”

Marc Detampel’s Brad Cox-trained Western Reserve fought on gamely under Shaun Bridgmohan but had to settle for second while a comfortable 2½ lengths clear of his stablemate, GenStar Thoroughbreds’ post-time favorite and 2016 Bradley winner Chocolate Ride, who was ridden by Florent Geroux.

“I thought he tried hard,” Bridgmohan commented. “He was on the lead but he dug in and gave me a gallant effort.”

“He didn’t kick on,” Geroux said. “I’m not sure he liked it that soft.”

Granny’s Kitten, a 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, won for the sixth time in 18 lifetime starts and earned $75,000 to increase his career bankroll to $460,851. He returned $10.60, $4.80 and $2.60, while Western Reserve paid $3.40 and $2.40, with Chocolate Ride returning $2.20.

Blarp, Pumpkin Rumble and One Mean Man completed the running order. Glorious Empire (IRE), Greengrassofyoming and Rocket Time, who competed one race prior in the $75,000 Louisiana Stakes, were scratched.

In earlier action, Jerry Durant’s heavily favored Holy Boss assumed command of the lead out of the gate and easily turned away his three challengers to post a 5¾-length tally in Saturday’s $70,500 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. for trainer Steve Asmussen, the 5-year-old son of Street Boss took only modest early pressure from Sagamore Farms and Brereton C. Jones’ Larry Jones-trained Chief Istan through splits of 21.68 and 44.52. Turning that rival away at the top of the stretch, the winner widened his advantage through the lane to stop the clock in 1:10.14 for the six furlongs over a muddy track. Chief Istan, under Mitchell Murrill, held the place by a neck over Clark Brewster’s Bayerd, who was ridden by Florent Geroux for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“That’s one of my favorite horses,” Santana, Jr. said. “I have a lot of confidence in him. It was an easy race for him. There was no speed in the race, and turning for home he took his class out.”

Holy Boss won for the sixth time in 18 lifetime starts and earned $45,000 to boost his career bankroll to $711,277. He returned $2.80 and $2.10 with Chief Istan paying $3.40 in the race that offered only win and place wagering.

Clearly Nowfinished fourth. Yockey’s Warrior and Guess Who Charlie were scratched.

Two races later, Stephan Smoot and part-owner-trainer Wes Hawley’s Hawaakom notched a win with a flashy late run in the $73,500 Louisiana Stakes.

As longshot Carve cut out early splits of 24.73, 48.59 and 1:13.14, Hawaakom settled inside while last of seven under jockey Miguel Mena. Advancing up the inside turning for home, the 7-year-old son of Jazil tipped out midstretch and rallied stoutly to score by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:44.01 for the 1 1/16 miles on a muddy main track.

Dazzling Gem, ridden by Robby Albarado for trainer Brad Cox, tracked the pace from close range and made a flashy move to the lead turning for home but was unable to match late strides with the winner. It was another 2¼ lengths back to Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Al Stall, Jr.-trained Rocket Time in third under Colby Hernandez.

“We had a great trip, I was down saving ground where he likes it,” Mena said. “I had plenty of horse and was just hoping to get through at the head of the lane. I cut the corner, swung him out and he was full of run.”

“I had a great trip,” Albarado said. “He responded when I needed him and was nice and relaxed early on. He just got outrun today.”

Winning for the eighth time in 32 career starts, the $15,000 Nov. 2014 claim won his second stakes race and earned $45,000 to lift his career bankroll to $473,175. Sent to post as the 7-2 third choice, Hawaakom returned $9.40, $4.20 and $3.20. Dazzling Gem paid $6 and $4, with Rocket Time returning $4.80.

Iron Fist, Carve, Raagheb and Seeking the Soul completed the order of finish. Honorable Duty was scratched.