Kauai Katie Seeks to Bounce Back in Grade 1 Prioress
By John Scheinman | 07/24/2013 05:50 PM ET
Kauai Katie, winner of four graded stakes in eight career starts, will attempt to rebound after a fourth-place finish in her most recent outing when she turns back in distance to contest the 66th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The Prioress is the only Grade 1 six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies in the country.
Trained by Todd Pletcher for Stonestreet Stables, Kauai Katie effortlessly powered through three straight stakes scores to open her 3-year-old campaign, but then tumbled to a non-threatening third-place finish May 27 in the Grade 1 Acorn going a mile at Belmont Park. In that race, she rushed up to reach contention on the turn, but tired and finished seven lengths behind winner Midnight Lucky.
"She's good at six [furlongs]; I think she handles seven very well, also," Pletcher said of Kauai Katie, the even-money favorite on the morning line.
Pletcher expressed a desire for a favorable post position draw, and Kauai Katie landed well in the outside post in a scheduled field of seven.
Kauai Katie, the 122-pound highweight, is a perfect 2-for-2 at Saratoga, having won her debut along with the Grade 2 Adirondack last year. She tuned up Sunday for the Prioress with a four-furlong work in 50.03 seconds in company with Grade 1 Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze.
"They're both sort of horses that aren't overly enthusiastic work horses," Pletcher said. "They tend to run better than they breeze, so I thought they'd make good mates. They were head-and-head throughout and went well."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Kauai Katie.
So Many Ways, 3-1 second choice on the morning line, is another Prioress entrant who is undefeated at Saratoga. The Maggi Moss-owned daughter of Sightseeing won the Grade 3 Schuylerville and the Grade 1 Spinaway as a 2-year-old while in the care of trainer Tony Dutrow. Transferred to the barn of Thomas Amoss, So Many Ways won the Grade 3 Eight Belles on May 3 at Churchill Downs and then finished third in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.
Irish Lute, 10-1, rallied for third in the Eight Belles, beaten just a length by So Many Ways. After a poor effort over a sloppy track in her next start, the Dallas Stewart-trained daughter of Midnight Lute scored a good allowance sprint victory on June 21 at Churchill Downs.
"She's doing great," Stewart said. "She worked lights out here the other day coming off a good race, and she was third in a stake, already, beaten a length by a Grade 1 winner. She's got credentials."
Irish Lute worked five furlongs in 1:01.13 on Saturday.
"You never know until you try, but I'll tell you what, she's going to run her eyeballs out. It was bad in the slop [on June 1], so we're hoping for a dry track," said Stewart. "She wouldn't even run in the slop. She worked good after that, so I fired her right back and she won. Beat a nice horse, too."
Wildcat Lily, trained by Manuel Azpurua, enters the Prioress off two straight wins at Calder Race Course, including the Grade 3 Azalea on July 6. The daughter of D'wildcat, 4-1, has finished first or second in her past six starts.
Trainer George Weaver entered Lighthouse Bay, recent off-the-pace winner of the Jostle Stakes at Parx Racing who ran third in the Miss Preakness at Pimlico.
"She has trained well," Weaver said of the daughter of Speightstown, who is 12-1 on the morning line. "You try to pick your spots and give them good chances to win. It's a chance to get some Grade 1 black type on the resume. She needs to step up a little bit as far as speed figures, but I don't think that much. If we get the right kind of trip, and there's some speed in there, we can definitely do well."
Ju Ju Eyeballs, a 5 ¼-length winner Sunday in the Just Smashing Stakes at Monmouth Park, was entered off short rest by trainer Jason Servis, who said the Gators N Bears filly has about a 40 percent chance of running in the Prioress.
A $15,000 claim in December by Mr. Amore Stable, Ju Ju Eyeballs, 12-1, has blossomed this year and is on a five-race winning streak. After three straight wins on grass, Servis took Ju Ju Eyeballs to the dirt and she crushed the field at Monmouth.
"The whole key with Ju Ju Eyeballs is taking her off the pace," Servis said. "When I ran her off the claim, we sent her to the front and she stopped and finished third. The next time Joe [Rocco, Jr.] rode her, I said, 'I don't care if she finishes last, I want her taken off the pace.' After the race, he said, 'Jason, I had so much horse turning for home.'"
Little Rocket, trained by Michael Hushion, completes the field and is 20-1 on the morning line.
The field for the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress: