After beginning her 3-year-old campaign with a smart eight-length score in the Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) Jan.1, Kauai Katie captured the Forward Gal at seven furlongs in 1:22.13 under John Velazquez (VIDEO) as the 1-3 favorite.
Kauai Katie, whose sole loss came in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in November when fourth, took a slight lead at the start of the Forward Gal with Pow Wow Wow, Spring Venture, and My Happy Face in close pursuit through a quarter-mile in 22.89.
Approaching the stretch, Kauai Katie began pulling away and reached the eighth pole three lengths in front of My Happy Face in 1:09.67 for the six furlongs. The daughter of Malibu Moon cruised under the wire to win by 5 1/2 lengths over My Happy Face, with Pow Wow Wow finishing third, 2 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
Fusaichiswonderful, who was unbeaten in her five starts in Puerto Rico and was making her first start off the island, finished fourth, followed by Spring Venture, a Sovereign Award finalist, and Ashlee's Princess.
"She ran the race we were hoping for," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Kauai Katie for Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables. "We really weren't sure whether she would be on the lead or not, but once she broke so alertly there was no point to try and take her back. I'd say that's it for her at Gulfstream with the next two races at a mile-and-a-sixteenth and a mile-and-an-eighth. As I've said before, the major summer goals for her will be the Prioress and Test at Saratoga. She'll freshen up a little for now."
Velazquez was impressed with her performance. "We expected to be in front, thinking that My Happy Face would show some speed, but I ended up on the lead straight out of the gate so I let her do her thing," he said. "When I asked for more at the quarter-pole she went instantly with ease, very impressive."
The victory was the fifth for Kauai Katie, whose earlier stakes scores included victories in the Matron Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park and the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course. Kauai Katie had signaled her initial readiness with a 12-length win at Saratoga in her debut.
Kauai Katie earned $120,000 of the $200,000 Forward Gal purse to up her earnings to $588,000. The Forward Gal is named after A.I. "Butch" Savin's champion 2-year-old filly of 1970.
Kauai Katie paid $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10. My Happy Face rewarded her backers with $3.40 and $2.40, and Pow Wow Wow returned $5.20. The 6-3 exacta paid $6.80, the 6-3-5 trifecta was worth $43.20, and the 6-3-5-2 superfecta paid $135.40.