01/07/2017 2:00PM

Wildcat Kate by a neck in Old Hat Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Wildcat Kate, ridden by Eduardo Nunez, prevails in the Old Hat Stakes on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Wildcat Kate launched her 3-year-old campaign doing something she was unable to accomplish at 2: defeat Bode’s Dream.

Wildcat Kate proved no match for the then-undefeated Bode’s Dream when the pair met last month in the House Party Stakes. But the gutsy daughter of Kantharos was able to avenge that setback Saturday at Gulfstream Park, stalking and wearing down the odds-on favorite en route to a well-deserved neck decision in the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes.

Wildcat Kate used similar tactics in the six-furlong Old Hat as she had futilely tried in the House Party, taking the race right to the speedy Bode’s Dream. Wildcat Kate dogged the 2-5 choice from the outset, this time continuing her run through the final furlong to prove narrowly best.

Bode’s Dream, unbeaten in three previous starts, set the pace as expected under jockey John Velazquez, saved ground, but this time had no answer for Wildcat Kate while easily second-best in a field of six 3-year-old fillies. Summer Luck rallied belatedly along the inside to finish third following a very slow start.

Wildcat Kate is trained by Kathleen O’Connell for owner San Basillio LLC. She completed the distance in 1:11.46 over a fast track and paid $27.40.

“She’s a real fighter,” said O’Connell, who is based at Gulfstream Park West. “She’s always exhibited a lot of gameness, even in her works. She’s got such a good mind. That’s a big part of it, especially with these babies. She might have been too sharp in her last race. I told [jockey Eduardo Nunez] he’s going to have to use his best judgment. One thing we know, you can’t let one horse loose on the lead. It seemed like he was able to get her out of the gate and get position without using her, where she was engaged without fighting him. She’s more mature, more relaxed, more responsive to him.”

O’Connell said she’ll consider the Grade 2, seven-furlong Forward Gal on Feb. 4 for Wildcat Kate’s next start.