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Kauai Katie Likely Odds-On Choice in Forward Gal
Stonestreet Stable’s brilliant 3-year-old filly Kauai Katie, an easy eight-length winner of the six-furlong old Hat Stakes (G3) as the 1-to-10 favorite at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day for trainer Todd Pletcher, comes back for more as the likely odds-on choice in Saturday’s $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs.
Jockey John Velazquez gets the return call on Kauai Katie in the field of six as she bids for a fifth victory in six career starts, her only loss a fourth-place finish behind Eclipse champion Beholder in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G3) at Santa Anita in Nov. 3 after prompting the pace of Beholder to the top of the stretch.
“It was probably a little farther than she wants to go, at least at this point in her career, although I’m not sure she liked the track that day” said Pletcher. “She’s a very good filly. We’ll keep her at sprint distances for now at least.”
A $490,000 Fasig-Tipton February 2-year-old sales purchase by Malibu Moon, Kauai Katie won all three of her starts before the Breeders’ Cup in New York with lengthy victories, including the Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and Matron (G2) at Belmont Park.
Among Kauai Katie’s most accomplished rivals will be Michael Dubb’s My Happy Face with jockey Javier Catellano in the saddle for trainer Rudy Rodriguez as she makes her first start since a hard-fought neck victory in the one-mile Tempted Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on Nov. 4.
“She’s doing great and has been right on schedule with her training,” said Rodriguez, who is operating a small division at Gulfstream for the first time this year. “This is the perfect spot for her to get started, but we are definitely looking forward to trying her in a longer race around two turns. We’ll look at the Davona Dale if all goes well,” The $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) will be run at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 23.
A roan/gray daughter of Tiz Wondeful, My Happy Face finished second in her five-furlong debut at Saratoga on July 25 before running off to pass her maiden test by a remarkable 21 3/5 lengths over the same track and distance on Aug. 31. She stepped up to the Frizette Stakes (G1) going a mile at Belmont Park on Oct. 6 and ran a huge race losing a head decision to Todd Pletcher-trained Dreaming of Julia.
While Dreaming of Julia went on to finish third behind Eclipse champion Beholder and Executiveprivilege in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Rodriguez decided My Happy Face had had such a hard race in the Frizette that she was better off kept at home for the Tempted that same weekend.
Another accomplished 2-year-old last year in the Forward Gal field is Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm LLC’s Spring Venture with Patrick Husbands named to ride for trainer Mark Casse. A Stoneway homebred in Kentucky, Spring Venture is by Spring At Last and won her first three starts at Woodbine, including the Natalma Stakes (G2) on turf and Mazarine Stakes (G3) on Polytrack.
Sent off at 7-to-2 in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, she was off “slow” and checked in 13th in the bulky field of 14, although beaten only seven lengths by the winner.
Pletcher also has another filly in the field that will be hard to gauge as he sends out Aquino Stable’s Fusaichiswonderful with Joel Rosario named to ride. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus was a $12,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase and makes her first start for Pletcher after winning all five of her starts last year in Puerto Rico.
Completing the field for the Forward Gal are Steve Dwoskin’s Ashlee’s Princess, Manoel Cruz; and Marylou Whitney Stable’s Pow Wow Wow, Jose Lezcano.