The near-constant rain has been a big test for the Keeneland turf course this Spring Meet, but one could argue that the presence of runners trained by Chad Brown has been the most overwhelming force to hit the lush grass in recent days.
Though Brown himself wasn't in attendance at Keeneland on Wednesday, his stable continued to pile up the hardware on his behalf. Paul Pompa's Night Prowler became the third Brown trainee to win a graded stakes on the grass in as many race days, taking the Grade III, $100,000 Transylvania Stakes with a furious rally that edged Luck of the Kitten by a neck at the wire.
Night Prowler has wonderful company in his shedrow: Stablemates Ball Dancing and Lady Eli won the Grade I Jenny Wiley and Grade III Appalachian Stakes on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Night Prowler, a 3-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding, signaled his ability when he won the Grade III Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3.
However, his late-running style can make him susceptible to rough trips, which is exactly what happened when the chestnut gelding got shuffled back and then had to check up in traffic while finishing fifth as the favorite in the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes on March 7.
With only four other challengers Wednesday and a red-hot Javier Castellano in the irons, Night Prowler rated handily in third behind even-money favorite Luck of the Kitten and Saham through fractions of :24.31 and :49.10 over a course rated soft.
Night Prowler was 21/2 lengths behind those two as Castellano angled him out three wide in midstretch, but he responded to a couple right-handed taps with a driving finish to earn his third in win in six career starts.
"I had a beautiful trip. I really liked the way he did it," Castellano said. "He's got a great kick in the last part of the race, so I was really fortunate.
"I had a lot of trouble in his last race (fifth in the Grade III Palm Beach). He got covered up, and I didn't find any seam (to run through). I was very fortunate today. He was able to work it out."
Night Prowler covered the 11⁄16 miles in 1:44.03. Luck of the Kitten, who was making his first start since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on Oct. 31, held for second by half a length over Saham.
"I was worried all the way through," said Ken Ramsey, owner of Luck of the Kitten. "We were carrying 5 more pounds (123 pounds to 118 for Night Prowler), had never been 11⁄16 miles, and he hadn't been out this year. But this was a good prep for Royal Ascot (in England June 16 to 20). That's the main goal for him."