08/02/2002 11:00PM

Will Classic be Kid's swan song?

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - One of the reasons Kid Katabatic is still competitive in stakes company as a 9-year-old is the way he's been handled by his owner-trainer Shauna Ferguson. As she puts it, she's babied him throughout his career. The Kid has started only 37 times and any time that he showed any signs of wear and tear, Ferguson would stop on him. Given his advanced age, and the way Ferguson treats him, it's very possible that this Monday's B.C. Cup Classic could be his last race.

"We're just taking it one race at a time," said Ferguson. "Right now he's doing great and he should run a good race Monday, but we'll wait and see how he comes out of it before making any more plans."

Ferguson wasn't planning to run him more than a few times this year and the Classic will be his fourth start. If he comes out of Monday's race in perfect shape, she will likely start him one more time before turning him out.

"Then we'll see how he does over the winter before deciding to bring him back or not."

Kid Katabatic has earned $603,565 in his career and Ferguson, who is his breeder and owner, is fortunate not to have lost him when she ran him in a $32,000 maiden race in his initial start. "I knew he had some talent but since I owned him, I thought it would be okay to run him for a tag. Terry Sangara was walking by my shed row that morning and I showed him the horse and told him that he could probably bet on him."

Sangara picks up the story from there. "Later that day my son called me and said he was going to claim a horse that night" said Sangara. "When I saw him at the track he had the claim slip filled out and it turned out to be Kid Katabatic. I told him that there was no way he could claim the horse because Shauna had shown me him that day and it wouldn't be right, even though he had picked out the horse himself."

Luckily for Ferguson, Sangara ripped the claim slip up and the rest is history.

While Kid Katabatic will receive plenty of support to win the Classic, Lord Nelson is likely to be favored. He easily handed the Kid the last time they met and according to his trainer, Dino Condilenios, he's training better than ever leading into Monday's race. He had Lord Nelson's regular rider Frank Fuentes work him an easy five-furlongs in 1:02.40 seconds last Monday.

"I've never seen Frank so confident after a work," said Condilenios. "He said Lord Nelson was just playing around and had his ears pricked the whole way just wanting to be turned loose."

Like Kid Katabatic, Lord Nelson has tremendous speed and has learned how to ration it. He was good enough to win three stakes last year and earned provincial honors for top older horse, but he seems to have moved on to an even higher level this year.

"He's just so relaxed about it now," said Condilenios. "He's become more versatile and can easily be rated so it doesn't matter how a race shapes up."

In last year's Classic, Lord Nelson couldn't have had an easier race. The track came up sloppy and he just galloped along in front of mostly high priced claimers. That won't be the case this Monday.

"He'll have to earn it this year," said Condilenios. "We beat Kid Katabatic last time but I don't think he handled the track very well and Prodigious is a much better horse than he showed in the Lieutenant Governors."

Condilenios thinks he has a good chance with Queen of My Nights in the Distaff, especially since Lady's Jewel opted to run in the sprint. Queen of My Nights has won all of her races leading from gate to wire and she should have an easy time making the lead with Lady's Jewel out of the race. Queen of My Nights has never gone nine furlongs but she looked good winning the 1 1/16-mile Sun Handicap June 15, and with no other real speed to push her, she could be hard to haul down.

"I think she can go that far, and while I wasn't that worried about Lady's Jewel, it certainly won't hurt having her out of the race."