06/28/2002 12:00AM

Kid Katabatic, a deserving favorite (still)

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - After trouncing his opposition in two straight stakes races, Kid Katabatic will be a heavy favorite to win the Grade 3, $75,000 Lieutenant Governors' at Hastings Park on Monday.

A winner of 16 of 36 starts, including the 2000 Longacres Mile, Kid Katabatic is one of the most accomplished horses of recent years in the Pacific Northwest, but, amazingly, he wasn't favored in either of his last two races.

It was understandable that local fans had reservations about his first start of the year, the Spring Sprint Stakes. After all, Kid Katabatic turned 9 this year and hadn't won a race since August 2000, when he beat Mark My Dreams in the B.C. Cup Classic. But he had worked sensationally leading up to the race and his credentials stood out.

It was a complete surprise, however, when he was sent off as the second choice in the wagering behind Diglett in his second start of the year, the John Longden 6,000, especially since he had worked sensationally following his impressive win in the Spring Sprint Stakes. If there are any doubters left, just take a look at his workout for Monday's race. Once again he looked like a youngster working a handy five furlongs in 59.60 seconds June 23.

His trainer and part-owner, Shauna Ferguson, sent Kid Katabatic to the farm for a week following the Longden and she's happy to have him back at the track.

"He enjoyed being there but it was a lot of work for us," she said, referring to herself and her husband, Keith, who also owns part of Kid Katabatic. "It's only a few minutes away from where we live, but Keith would go over four times a day to walk him, feed him, graze him, and do him up. It was almost like a full-time job."

Ferguson also said that Kid Katabatic wasn't too interested in leaving the farm, but after they convinced him to get on the trailer, he has settled in nicely and is flourishing at the track.

"He worked great and is galloping strong. In fact, he's almost tougher to gallop now than he's ever been. He couldn't be doing any better," she said.

Kid Katabatic is a different horse than when he was young. He used to be an all or nothing horse who had to be in front, but now he will relax and use his speed judiciously.

"It's nice to have options" said Ferguson. "You don't have people just putting a bull's-eye on his butt. Now you can't figure him into the equation because you don't know where he's going to be. It takes a lot of pressure off."

Ferguson was only planning to run Kid Katabatic a few times this year, and despite how well he's doing, she's sticking to her plans.

"After this race we'll run him in the B.C. Cup Classic [Aug. 5] and then maybe once more. We're definitely keeping him at Hastings for the year. I wouldn't mind running him at Emerald once but after the [Longacres] Mile there's nothing for him down there."

The only thing that could rain on Kid Katabatic's parade Monday is, well, rain. And if it does rain, the Ferguson household will be in for some turbulent times. Keith doesn't mind running Kid Katabatic on off tracks, but Shauna is firmly against it. "Let's just put it this way," said Keith. "If he shows up in the paddock, he's running. But, let's not start talking about it now because I don't want to spoil my weekend."

Shauna Ferguson shook her head no and, as Keith put it, "she's the boss."

Lord Nelson will run

After vacillating about running Lord Nelson in the Lieutenant Governors', trainer Dino Condilenios has opted to enter him.

One big factor in the decision was Lord Nelson's six-furlong work in 1:11.20 on June 26.

"He came out of his work bouncing and so we'll give it a go," Condilenios said. "Otherwise he'd have to run in three times in five weeks and I don't want to do that to him."