Trainer Dale Romans has always tabbed Pick of the Litter among his barn favorites, due in no small part to how he reminds Romans of his former trainee, champion Kitten's Joy.
Saturday's running of the Grade II, $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes saw Pick of the Litter justify Romans' high opinion of the colt as he rallied from fifth and split rivals in deep stretch to edge multiple graded stakes winner Departing by a neck, earning his first graded stakes score in 18 career starts.
A son of Kitten's Joy, Pick of the Litter overcame colic surgery as a juvenile and was briefly on the 2013 Kentucky Derby trail. The 4-year-old defeated eventual Homecoming Classic winner and Breeders' Cup Classic contender Cigar Street at Saratoga on Aug. 22 and could run back in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28.
"He's just gotten better as he's gotten older and when he beat Cigar Street in Saratoga, I thought he turned a corner," Romans said. "He got the stakes win he deserved."
Pick of the Litter hit the wire in 1:49.48 for the 11⁄8-mile race.