02/03/2010 1:00AM

Kiawah Cat tries distance experiment


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In all his years on the racetrack, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has never run a horse in a race at a distance of 1 7/16 miles.

"I guess I will now," Mott said, referring to Kiawah Cat, who will go postward among the favorites in Thursday's $51,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park, which will be decided at that unusual distance on the turf.

Mott will be hoping for a little break from Mother Nature so Thursday's main event can go off as scheduled on the grass. Heavy rains soaked the course earlier in the week, leaving the status of the turf in doubt.

Kiawah Cat has never raced on dirt, having made all nine of her starts on grass, including two over the local strip last season. A 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid owned by the Darley Stable, Kiawah Cat won her maiden at first asking at Calder in her lone start at 2 but managed only a single victory in eight tries a year ago and none since winning her first-level allowance condition at Monmouth Park in late May.

"I'm going to try sending her a little further and experiment with that a little bit," Mott said. "I guess they had to run this distance because of the configuration of the turf course. I'm also dropping her back into allowance company trying to get her confidence back."

Kiawah Cat has made her two most recent starts and four of her last five against stakes company. She closed her 3-year-old campaign finishing ninth in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere on Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs.

Two other fillies coming out of Kentucky, Proud Lisa and Magical Theater, also figure to be key players if the race stays on the grass.

Proud Lisa would actually relish soft turf, having won her 2009 finale by 6 1/4 widening lengths going 1 1/2 miles over a yielding course at Keeneland on Oct. 30. Trained by Joe Orseno, Proud Lisa won her maiden under a $50,000 price tag here last winter. She finished far back in her only start on dirt.

Magical Theater rallied from a dozen lengths off the pace to finish second at a mile in her last start on Nov. 27. Magical Theater has never raced on dirt but did win her maiden over Turfway Park's synthetic surface in December 2007.