12/29/2012 12:55PM

Gulfstream Park: Kauai Katie cuts back to a sprint in Old Hat Stakes

Tom Keyser
Kauai Katie goes into the six-furlong Old Hat off a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It came as no surprise that Tuesday’s $100,000 Old Hat Stakes came up a short field. Not after word got out that trainer Todd Pletcher was planning on launching Kauai Katie’s 3-year-old campaign in the six-furlong sprint. So even though the Old Hat is the first graded stakes of the New Year for 3-year-old fillies in south Florida, it drew just five entries, a group that also includes the speedy and still undefeated Cor Cor.

The appearance of the two-time graded stakes winner Kauai Katie in the Old Hat will highlight Tuesday’s special New Year’s Day program at Gulfstream Park. The card includes three other stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds, the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby, the six-furlong Spectacular Bid, and the grassy Ginger Brew for fillies.

Kauai Katie will turn back to six furlongs after suffering the first defeat of her career when finishing fourth going a 1 1/16 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Kauai Katie, a daughter of Malibu Moon owned by Stonestreet Stables, captured her first three starts by a combined margin of more than 22 lengths, including both the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga and Grade 2 Matron at Belmont Park.

Kauai Katie was ridden by Rosie Napravnik in her four races but will have John Velazquez aboard for her 3-year-old bow.

“We decided to take a shot and stretch her out in the Breeders’ Cup, and although she didn’t run badly, she didn’t excel like she does at sprinting,” said Pletcher. “The way the calendar is laid out at Gulfstream, with both the Old Hat and Forward Gal in January, we felt we’d just take advantage of that and gear her up a little sooner, unlike Dreaming of Julia who’ll wait for the longer races.”

Kauai Katie will break from the rail in the Old Hat, although Pletcher feels she is tactical enough to overcome that issue.

“The rail is not ideal by any means, but she’s drawn inside several times in her career,” Pletcher said. “She’s a good gate horse and she’ll have to come out of there running.

“The horse from Tampa [Cor Cor] looks pretty fast, so Johnny will have to make a decision whether to go or let her have the lead.”

Cor Cor is perfect in two starts, showing both natural speed and some versatility by winning her debut over the synthetic surface at Keeneland and her stakes debut, the Sandpiper, over dirt at Tampa Bay Downs.

“She’s coming into the race as good as she can,” said trainer Joan Scott. “She ran super on the Poly at Keeneland but she’s a real strong, round-type filly who I think will like the dirt better. She’s very fast and I think she’s a real nice filly, but we’ll know more about how good she is after going up against a horse like Kauai Katie.

“I’d have loved to have come down here and caught a bunch of bums, but this is what happens when you come to Gulfstream and run in a graded stakes.”

A hot pace would enhance the chances of the other three members of the Old Hat field, Power Lady, Cupids Messenger, and She’s All Scat.

Power Lady won her first two starts by an average margin of nearly nine lengths before finishing third in Laurel’s Smart Halo.

Cupids Messenger is the only proven closer in the field and exits an even fifth-place finish under allowance conditions earlier this meet.

She’s All Scat led throughout to upset Laurel’s seven-furlong Gin Talking Stakes to close out her 2-year-old campaign for trainer Michael Pino.