If the other six fillies and mares entered in the $200,000 Distaff Handicap (gr. II) April 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack have any hope of knocking off one-time sensation Kauai Katie, this would be the place to do it. The 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon hasn’t run since July 27, or nearly nine months.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Stonestreet Stables, Kauai Katie looked like something special early in her career, romping in her first three starts including easy scores in the grade II Adirondack and Matron stakes.
Following a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in her first start around two turns, she returned to sprinting at Gulfstream Park and continued her dominance by winning the Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) by eight lengths and the Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) by 5 1/2, and then captured the Road Princess Stakes at Aqueduct by 3 1/4 lengths. But after a well-beaten third in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) and a sixth-place finish in the Prioress Stakes (gr. I), in which she lost a shoe, she was given the rest of the year off.
In the six-furlong Distaff, Kauai Katie will carry top weight of 120 pounds and break from post 5 under John Velazquez.
One of her main threats is the 4-year-old Bridgehampton, who also was sidelined last year after finishing a game second in the grade III Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park. The daughter of Bernardini returned March 23, winning a six-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct.
Trained by Mike Hushion for Barry Schwartz, she gets in with a feathery 114 pounds and has the services of Rajiv Maragh.
Both Kauai Katie and Bridgehampton will have to avoid getting involved in a pace duel with the speedy New York-bred La Verdad, breaking from the rail under Jose Ortiz, and Munnings Sister. The latter filly wired her field in the Awesome Feather Stakes at Gulfstream Feb. 6 with a dazzling half in :43 4/5 before journeying to Santa Anita Park and finishing third in the Las Flores Stakes (gr. III) after blazing an opening half in :44 1/5.
La Verdad, a winner of six of her eight career starts against state-breds and in open company, will carry 115 pounds for trainer Linda Rice.
If these fillies all get caught up in a speed duel, it could set it up for My Pal Chrisy, who has won three stakes and placed in seven others in her last 10 starts. Trainer Marty Wolfson, who is always dangerous with shippers, brought the daughter of Alex's Pal up from Gulfstream for the Distaff.
Another who could benefit from a blazing pace is Miss d'Oro, but the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro hasn’t run since last May 18, when she finished fourth in the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II). Before that, the Jason Servis-trained 5-year-old was second to Cluster of Stars in the Distaff.
Rounding out the field is Lion D N A, who has won three of her past four starts for Rudy Rodriguez, including victories in the Correction and Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct. In her last start, she was fifth at 4-5 in a starter allowance race.
$200,000 Distaff Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, approximate post time 4:57 p.m. EDT), 3 Year-Olds and Up, Fillies and Mares, six furlongs
1—La Verdad (NY), J.L. Ortiz, 115, L. Rice
2—Miss d’Oro (PA), M. Franco, 114, J. Servis
3—Lion D N A (ILL), A.S. Arroyo, 116, R. Rodriguez
4—Munnings Sister (KY), L. Saez, 118, B. Tagg
5—Kauai Katie (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 120, T. Pletcher
6—Bridgehampton (KY) R. Maragh, 114, M. Hushion
7—My Pal Chrisy (FLA), J. Alvarado, 119, M.D. Wolfson