Kauai Katie looms large in Vagrancy
By Sean Morris | 05/14/2014 05:51 PM ET
Kauai Katie will go in search of her first victory as a 4-year-old on Saturday at Belmont Park in the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs for fillies and mares.
Kauai Katie exploded onto the racing scene as a juvenile in 2012 at Saratoga Race Course, breaking her maiden first out by 12 lengths and earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. The precocious daughter of Malibu Moon went on to take two graded stakes on the NYRA circuit that year, the Grade 2 Adirondack and Grade 2 Matron, and concluded her campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
At 3, the bay filly wasted no time getting back to the winner's circle, rattling off three consecutive wins to begin 2013, including a pair of graded stakes at Gulfstream Park and the Road Princess at Belmont. On May 27, the talented sprinter was sent off as the 8-5 second choice in the Grade 1 Acorn, but a stumble at the start put her in an uncomfortable position tracking the early pace along the rail. She went on to finish third, beaten seven lengths that day, and her 3-year-old season came to a premature close after a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Prioress on July 27 at Saratoga Race Course.
Kauai Katie returned to the racetrack in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap on April 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack, and finished second to La Verdad after lagging unusually far behind the early pace. The race marked her first loss in a sprint race.
"She's doing well," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Kauai Katie for Stonestreet Stables. "Having a run under her belt should help her move forward; I think she was just a little rusty [in her last race] and she should be much sharper this time around."
Kauai Katie will break from post position 4 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard and was installed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite.
Five Star Momma - trained by Jena Antonucci for Summerwind Farms and Half Hollow Racing - will look to add a graded stakes win to her resume on Saturday. The 5-year-old mare won a pair of overnight stakes last year and has placed in all three of her graded stakes outings. To kick off 2014, she finished second to champion sprinter Groupie Doll in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie, and followed that up with a third-place showing in the Grade 2 Inside Information, in which she set the early pace.
"She's fantastic; we couldn't be happier with her," said Antonucci. "We've been giving her a little more time off lately as she's stepped up into graded stakes, as those races tend to be harder on the horse. She ran great in the Inside Information; she did all of the heavy lifting and just got beat 3 ½ lengths. The start before that she was beat by Groupie Doll at 6 ½ [furlongs], so we're very comfortable with the distance."
Five Star Momma will be ridden by Jose Ortiz and the duo will leave from post position 5. She sits at 3-1 on the morning line.
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez will be represented by a pair of runners in Lion D N A and Mama Zee. The former won a couple of stakes on the inner track at the Big A this winter, while the latter will be making her stakes debut after running predominantly in starter allowance races.
Rounding out the field are Jane of All Trades, who won an off-the-turf optional claimer two back at Gulfstream Park, and Merry Meadow, who was most recently fourth in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap.
The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy: