Ken’s Kitten is poised to be the next off-track “it” horse.
With comparisons already being made to Thoroughbred Olympian Keen, the son of 2004 Champion Turf Male Kitten’s Joy, has the kind of all-around sex appeal to drop jaws the instant he moves into his springy and balanced trot work.
And he has the mind and athleticism to excel at Third Level dressage after only two short years in training!
Thoroughbred sport-horse proponent Steuart Pittman is so excited about Kitten’s future that he has arranged for the flashy chestnut ex-racehorse and his trainer/owner Nuno Santos to do a demonstration in two months at the Rolex Three Day in Kentucky.
Kitten just has to be seen, Pittman says.
“There are so many people who say that modern racing bloodlines are not good enough for jumping, that they’re not the movers they once were,” says Pittman, founder of Retired Racehorse Project. “Well, eat your hearts out. This is one of the best moving horses in the country!”
Sire: Kitten’s Joy
Dam: Cruise Line
Foal date: April 11, 2007Santos and Kitten found each other a few years ago at a racehorse-training farm where the young progeny of a millionaire was being prepped to compete for Eclipse Award winning owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey.
By the time Santos swung into the saddle and began to feel Kitten’s “floating and supple movements,” the seasoned rider who previously rode for Bobby Frankel, and had galloped the likes of Ghostzapper and Azeri, knew instantly the horse had potential.
“Number one: He’s a very, very flashy horse, and even though he was a very nervous horse, I knew I could take the nervous out of him,” Santos says. “I started riding him for Tom Voss, who was training him for the Ramsey family, and he was such a nervous horse and he didn’t like to run. So, I kept bothering Tom, asking when they wanted to get rid of him, and finally, one day, Tom said, ‘OK. You can have him.’ ”
Santos gave up exercising horses to return to his roots as a dressage rider; he established Santos Sport Horses and began the slow, methodical process of harnessing Kitten’s energetic gaits.
“I was born in Portugal and my background is in classic European dressage,” Santos says, noting that after 15 years working on the track, it was a joy to start Kitten in the beautiful dance of the exacting sport of his youth.
“It’s been a long process, going day by day, and teaching him bits and pieces,” he says. “But after two years, he’s starting to perform really well. Knock on wood, I believe he’s going to be very special.”
The pair demonstrated Third Level work on the Pimlico racetrack last fall during at a national symposium hosted by the Retired Racehorse Project, and recently performed at the Maryland Horse World Expo.
In both cases, eyes were riveted to Kitten.
“A Thoroughbred,” Santos says, “can do what every other horse can do, sometimes a little better.”
Better is what Pittman is betting on.
“I think we’re looking at the next Grand Prix Dressage Champion off the track,” Pittman says.
Proving once again that an OTTB can move on up with the best of them. — This story is republished in honor of the upcoming Retired Racehorse Project’s show at Pimlico. ♥