Stonestreet Stables' Kauai Katie has proven her talent among the best in North America, while Aquino Stables' Fusaichiswonderful is undefeated with four graded stakes victories earned at Camarero Racetrack in Puerto Rico. Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle both in the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26, and only four will face them.
The seven-furlong Forward Gal, race 8, with an approximate post time of 4:05 p.m. EST, drew a field of six sophomore fillies with Fusaichiswonderful carrying high weight of 122 pounds in her first start outside of Camarero. Kauai Katie, fresh off an eight-length tally in the Jan. 1 Old Hat Stakes (gr. III), has been assigned 120 pounds.
Kauai Katie, by Malibu Moon, looks to add to her stakes tally which includes the 2012 Matron Stakes (gr. II) and Adirondack Stakes (gr. II). She finished fourth in the Nov. 2 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
Fusaichiswonderful, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus, was a $12,000 purchase from the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale by Eric Aquino. She won a group stakes per month from last September to November, most recently taking the Nov. 22 Accion de Gracias (PR-I) by 6 3/4 lengths over the only two runners willing to face her.
Fusaichiswonderful typically makes her move from just off the pace to collar the leaders, then widens her advantage heading for home. Her margins of victory in a group III and two group II races before her latest win equaled a combined 17 1/2 lengths, and she broke her maiden by 12 3/4 lengths last August. Jockey Joel Rosario will ride from post 2, while John Velazquez pilots Kauai Katie from the far outside.
Topping the list of those willing to take on the Pletcher duo is Michael Dubb's My Happy Face, winner of the Nov. 4 Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack last time out. The Tiz Wonderful filly just missed by a head after a fierce stretch duel with another talented Pletcher runner, Dreaming of Julia, in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park last October. She is trained by Rudy Rodriguez and has been working steadily at Gulfstream since her New York victory; Javier Castellano gets the call as part of a 116-pound impost from the 3 hole.
Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm's Spring Venture tries dirt for the first time in the Forward Gal, and looks to rebound off a disappointing 13th after a bad trip in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT). Before the Breeders' Cup, trainer Mark Casse saddled the daughter of Spring At Last to three consecutive victories over the all weather track at Woodbine, including the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIT) and Mazarine Stakes (Can-III). Spring Venture also carries 120 pounds, including jockey Patrick Husbands from post 4.
Completing the field are Steven Dwoskin's recent allowance winner Ashlee's Princess, a Florida-bred Put it Back filly who was runner-up by five lengths in the Oct. 13 Florida Stallion My Dear Girl Stakes two starts ago; and Marylou Whitney's maiden winner Pow Wow Wow, a daughter of Indian Charlie.
$200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, approximate post 4:05 p.m. EST), 3YO Fillies, seven furlongs (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Ashlee's Princess (FL), M.R. Cruz, 116, S Dwoskin
2. Fusaichiswonderful (KY), J. Rosario, 122, T A Pletcher
3. My Happy Face (KY), J. Castellano, 116, R R Rodriguez
4. Spring Venture (KY), P. Husbands, 120, M E Casse
5. Pow Wow Wow (KY), J. Lezcano, 116, N P Zito
6. Kauai Katie (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 120, T A Pletcher