When thinking about the most impressive horses so far of 2013, the name Kauai Katie might not be one of the first to come to mind. Perhaps it should. Not exactly running in one of the glamour divisions of thoroughbred racing, Kauai Katie has seamlessly carried on the recent superior work done by Groupie Doll domestically, and Black Caviar internationally, to give us another example of excellence in the field of female sprinting. 3-for-3 this year, the daughter of Malibu Moon has been nothing short of dominant in her sophomore season. On Monday, the Stonestreet color bearer will try to continue that kind of form in Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Acorn Stakes. Kauai Katie’s only lifetime loss came in her sole attempt at two-turns when she ventured west for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall. Her fourth place finish that day may have been a bit of a disappointment, but considering the top three were Beholder, Executiveprivilege, and Dreaming of Julia, the performance, in only her fourth lifetime start, was nothing of which to be ashamed. Eschewing the allure of the Kentucky Oaks trail, and back to sprinting this year, the Todd Pletcher trainee has moved to the number one spot in her discipline with a bullet. Domination of competition is nothing new to Kauai Katie, though. A quick review of her lifetime past performances, other than the lone distance attempt, reveals perfection.
Making that perfect six-for-six record all the more impressive, and likely striking serious fear into her Acorn competition, is Kauai Katie’s winning margin in each race. Victorious by 12, 2 ¾, 7 ½, 8, 5 ½, 3 ¼ lengths respectively, adds up to the impressive total of 39 lengths, or put another way, Kauai Katie has won each of her sprint races by an average margin of 6 ½ lengths. As far as one-turn racing goes, we do not yet know just how good this filly may be. How could we? She’s never been tested. That test may come on Monday.
While the historic Acorn Stakes is still a one-turn race, at one-mile, it represents a distance farther than she has ever won at before. For top sprinters, like Kauai Katie, the flat mile distance can often be the toughest. Going as fast as you can for a full mile has proved to be too much for many a heavily favored sprint specialist.
If the elongated sprint distance of the Acorn does prove to be a thorn in the side of Kauai Katie, Bob Baffert’s Midnight Lucky will likely be the one to benefit. A smashing winner of her first two starts, including the Sunland Park Oaks, the daughter of Midnight Lute was thrown right into the frying pan on the first Friday in May. Considered a big threat in the Kentucky Oaks, despite coming in with only two lifetime starts, the loaded race proved a little too much for the talented gray filly. She did set all the pace, but had little answer for the top ones by the time they hit the lane. Still, much as was said for Kauai Katie’s Breeders’ Cup, her fifth place finish takes little away from my belief in her talent.
With enough natural speed to stay with Kauai Katie from the get go, Midnight Lucky represents the toughest test for the favorite in her one-turn career. If Kauai Katie can pass this big test, only a fall meeting with a returning Groupie Doll stands in her way of becoming a true superstar.