Edges G3 Winner Bye Bye Melvin for First Career Stakes Win
BALTIMORE – Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Don Juan Kitten, beaten a head by Bye Bye Melvin in their previous meeting, avenged the loss and got the best of his rival by a nose on the wire Saturday in the $100,000 James W. Murphy at Pimlico Race Course.
The 55th running of the one-mile Murphy for 3-year-olds on turf was ninth on a 12-race, all-stakes Preakness Day program featuring the $1 million Preakness (G1) and $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2).
Ridden by Gabriel Saez for trainer Danny Gargan, Don Juan Kitten ($7) picked up his third career win and first in a stakes. The winning time was 1:42.24 over the yielding turf course.
Don Juan Kitten pressed 80-1 long shot Oceans Map through a quarter-mile in 23.95 seconds before taking over the top spot down the backstretch after a demanding half in 47.90. Don Juan Kitten opened up some daylight once straightened for home but Bye Bye Melvin rallied down the center of the stretch with a steady run and the two hit the line together, with Don Juan Kitten on the inside emerging from the photo victorious.
Reconvene made a big late run to get up for third, 1 ¼ lengths behind Bye Bye Melvin and a half-length ahead of Vanzzy in fourth. Bye Bye Melvin, winner of the one-mile Saranac (G3) last out Aug. 29 at Saratoga, was the fourth runner-up finish on the Preakness Day program for trainer Graham Motion, who won last year’s Murphy with English Bee.
The James W. Murphy pays homage to the late trainer that won nearly 1,400 races and more than 50 stakes and $24 million in purses starting in 1965. He was named the MTHA’s Trainer of the Year in 2006, three years before he died at age 82.
$100,000 James W. Murphy Quotes
Winning Jockey Gabriel Saez (Don Juan Kitten) – “[John Velazquez and Bye Bye Melvin] were right on my heels. I said, ‘Here they come.’ But thank goodness we were able to hold on. We wanted to get him to relax on the backstretch. He was a little rank against the bit, but I was able to get him good enough for him to finish. He’s the type of horse that needs to be on the lead or close to it.”
Trainer Graham Motion (Bye Bye Melvin, 2nd): “He ran great. It’s been a really unlucky day. That was a tough one.”