Heavily favored Kauai Katie didn't disappoint in the Sept. 30 Matron Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Belmont Park when she overcame Baby J at the half-mile pole and increased her advantage to the wire, drawing off to a decisive 7 1/2-length victory.
The daughter of Malibu Moon kept her unbeaten streak intact and may have taken a huge step toward the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with the score, which was her third in as many starts.
The six-furlong Matron, race seven on a 10-race card, was a major triumph for Kauai Katie, who broke her maiden by 12 lengths at first asking going 5 1/2 furlongs July 20 at Saratoga Race Course and easily overpowered four foes in the 6 1/2-furlong Adirondack (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 12. She won that race by 2 3/4 lengths after ripping through early opening fractions of :21.77, and :44.93 under Rosie Napravnik, who returned to ride in the Matron.
Stonestreet Stables purchased Kauai Katie for $490,000 at this year's Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training. She is conditioned by Todd Pletcher.
"It was the first time she's been behind someone in the early part of the race," said Pletcher of Kauai Katie, who stalked Baby J for the first half of the race.
Fractions were :22:88, :46:67, and :58.43, with Kauai Katie completing the distance in 1:11.26.
"Based on the way she's trained, we felt like she would do that and she's done that in the mornings without any issues, but it's always nice to see them adapt to that scenario in the afternoon," Pletcher added. "She has a tremendous turn of foot. She just quickly put the race away and idled down the last part. We'll see (about the Breeders' Cup). We'll see how she comes out of it and talk with the connections."
Baby J, who stumbled at the start of the Matron, vied for the lead inside but was no match for Kauai Katie and held for second by 1 1/2 lengths. Seasoned Warrior, who perched three wide during the race, was third by 1 1/2 lengths. Unabashed and Doubled trailed fourth and fifth.
"Todd and I talked about (going to the lead) considering our post position gave us options," said Napravnik of the race. "Katie's always shown that she was ratable, so we figured we'd play the break and if somebody else wanted it they were free to have it, but she was so much the best I just couldn't hold her behind them. We just ended up making the lead early and she skipped across the ground. She couldn't have done that any easier."
Owner Barbara Banke added, "It was worth the trip. We don't know (whether Kauai Katie will go to the Breeders' Cup). We're going to plot our strategy. We'll hear from Todd maybe tomorrow and see how she's doing. She did this easy. I hope she got something out of it; she was huffing a little bit. You never expect it to be easy, and when you're 1-9, at one point, you always worry. At least I do."
Bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm, Kauai Katie is out of the More Than Ready mare More Than Pretty. She paid $2.40, $2.10, and $2.10. Baby J paid $4.30 and $2.60, while Seasoned Warrior paid $2.50 for the show.