03/02/2002 1:00AM

Katy Kat wins off-the-turf Bayou


NEW ORLEANS - Half-trainer, half meteorologist - it's a potent combination at Fair Grounds. Niall O'Callaghan entered Katy Kat in the $144,500 Bayou Breeders' Cup and came out a 2 3/4-length winner when the Bayou Breeders' Cup was taken off turf and run on a sloppy main track.

Another dirt horse, Pretty Gale, set the early pace but was no match for the pace-pressing Katy Kat ($4.80) in the stretch, finishing second, four lengths ahead of Temis. Katy Kat was timed in 1:50.67.

It was the second year in a row in which O'Callaghan won an off-the-turf Bayou BC. Last year On a Soapbox won the race for him.

"Here at the Fair Grounds I always nominate my dirt horses to the turf stakes because it only takes a couple hundred [dollars] to nominate," O'Callaghan said. "With the weather front that looked to be coming through, we decided to enter."

Good idea. O'Callaghan and owners Paul Saylor, Donna Moore, and Gene Voss wound up with the favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Bayou. Katy Kat broke sharply but was beaten to the lead on a racetrack that favored speed on Saturday.

Pretty Gale carved out a fast early pace, running a quarter-mile in 23.29 seconds and a half in 47 seconds.

Robby Albarado, riding Katy Kat, ranged up to test Pretty Gale on the far turn, but that filly responded with a brief surge that carried her back to the front. But Katy Kat was relentless and came again in the stretch, this time getting the better of Pretty Gale, who clearly was second best in the race.