It was over the Keeneland turf in just her second career start that the connections of Kitten's Point got a read on what kind of filly they had.
She was beaten just a nose that day in October 2012 in her first try against graded stakes company. Over the next few seasons, the daughter of Kitten's Joy would show her mettle multiple times in the 18 starts she posted leading up to Sunday's Grade III Rood & Riddle Dowager Stakes, including knocking off her share of stakes triumphs across the nation.
In what was likely her final career start before heading off to the breeding shed, Kitten's Point made another strong showing on the Keeneland turf, turning back Ceisteach in the stretch to win the $125,000 Dowager by 13/4 lengths.
Having Kitten's Point cross the line first in the 11/2 miles Dowager is a swan song with extra significance for the 5-year-old mare. Her victory in the Grade III Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland this April 24 is the subject of controversy as the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission handed trainer Graham Motion a five-day suspension and $500 fine when Kitten's Point was found to have an overage of the medication methocarbamol in the race.
Motion — who was at Woodbine on Sunday — has appealed the ruling, and Kitten's Point has been disqualified from her win in the Bewitch pending the outcome.
What's not disputed is that Kitten's Point is at home working her stamina and kick in distance races on the turf. The Augustin Stables homebred came into the Dowager off a win in the Mrs. Penny Stakes at Parx on Sept. 5 and looked similarly comfortable early on Sunday as jockey Edgar Prado had her settled along the rail in the center of the pack through an opening half mile in 49.81.
As the 10-horse field made its way down the backstretch, Kitten's Point pulled herself up to fourth and then took aim at Ceisteach when Prado tipped her off the rail around the final turn, then angled back inside of her rival.
"She's been great for us. Every year, every race she seems to show up," said David Rock, assistant to Motion. "She's just great to be around and does everything right. Edgar looked like he had his hands full and she always gives us a good kick."
Sent off as the 3-to-2 favorite, Kitten's Point covered the distance in 2:30.37 over a course rated firm to earn her seventh win in 19 starts. Ceisteach held for second by a half length over Modernstone.
When Kitten's Point ran second during her graded stakes debut in the 2012 Grade III Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, it prompted her connections to send her onward to a start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
There will no sticking around for this year's Breeders' Cup at Keeneland, however, as Jane Buchanan, racing manager for Motion's Herringswell Stable, said the mare's latest high note may be her final on-track impression.
"She's been so good for us. We'll freshen her up regardless, but I'd say she'll probably head to the breeding shed," Buchanan said.