Kauai Katie kicks off new year in Old Hat
Kauai Katie will be a prohibitive favorite lining up against four rivals in Tuesday's Grade 3, $100,000 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park, a six-furlong, New Year's Day test which is literally the first opportunity for the daughter of Malibu Moon to enhance her already stellar reputation as a newly turned three-year-old.
The speedy Kauai Katie, owned by Stonestreet Stables, ripped through her first three starts in New York last year. A 12-length debut winner at Belmont, the bay was an overwhelmingly popular winner of the Grade 2 Adirondack, by 2 3/4 lengths, and the Grade 2 Matron, by 7 1/2 lengths, in her next two starts.
A lukewarm 5-1 in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, perhaps due to her inexperience beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, Kauai Katie tracked in second behind eventual winner Beholder before fading through the stretch of that 1 1/16-mile fixture. Kauai Katie finished fourth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths.
"It wasn't a bad race. It was probably a little farther than she wants to go," trainer Todd Pletcher said in December. "She'll probably be best at sprint distances for now, and this is a good spot to get started."
Also expected to show early foot in the Old Hat is Cor Cor, whose winning debut at Keeneland was followed by a wire-wire score over the deeper Tampa Bay Downs strip in the December 1 Sandpiper. The daughter of Smoke Glacken opened up an early three-length lead in that six-furlong dash, but saw her margin reduced to a half-length at the wire.
Power Lady was a dominating winner of her first two starts in Pennsylvania, winning a Penn National maiden by 11 3/4 lengths and a Parx allowance by 7 3/4 lengths. Stalking for the first time in her career in the November 3 Smart Halo at Laurel, the Discreet Cat miss was forced to check at the furlong pole and had to settle for third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Lighthouse Bay.
"She was in behind a wall of horses the whole race and turning for home, she had an opening on the inside. She went for it and the horse in front came down on top of her," Servis said.
Power Lady will race on Lasix for the first time in the Old Hat.
The Old Hat field is rounded out by She's All Scat, winner of the November 24 Gin Talking at Laurel, and Cupids Messenger, who has finished unplaced in both career starts against winners.
The other stakes for three-year-old fillies on Tuesday is the $100,000 Ginger Brew at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The contentious field includes the top three finishers from the November 22 Lie Low at Aqueduct -- Discreet Marq, Heart of New York and Mariel N Kathy -- as well as the Chad Brown-trained New York maiden winners Corporate Culture and Wave Theory.
"All three horses are doing well, all three are evenly matched in my opinion," said Brown, who is also the trainer of Heart of New York. "They've all had relatively the same experience. It's hard to separate the three of them, and I wouldn't be surprised if any one of the three won."
The other black type winners in the lineup are Tuttipaesi, a multiple stakes scorer in Italy who adds Lasix after finishing last in the Group 2 May Hill at Doncaster in England, and Kitten's Dumplings, an easy three-length winner of the November 10 La Senorita at Retama Park.
Floral Sky, an allowance winner on the Woodbine turf October 12, will be saddled by Mark Casse, who won with five of his first 15 starters at Gulfstream. Trainer Wayne Catalano, who is also off to a solid start this meet, will send out turf debut winners Kitten's Queen and I'm Already Sexy, both of whom visited the winner's circle during the Churchill Downs Fall meet.