Grade 2 winner Kauai Katie will stretch out to take on Longines Kentucky Oaks also-rans Midnight Lucky and Close Hatches while those two turn back in distance in the $300,000 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on Monday, May 27.
Kauai Katie heads a field of six sophomore fillies entered for the one-mile Acorn, race 9 of 11 on the New York oval's Memorial Day card. The Acorn, which is scheduled with an approximate post time of 5:17 p.m. EDT, immediately precedes the featured Metropolitan Handicap at 5:49 p.m.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent Stonestreet Stables' Malibu Moon filly to a gate-to-wire victory in the April 21 Road Princess Stakes last time out at Aqueduct Racetrack; she was never challenged and won the seven-furlong sprint by 3 ¼ lengths.
ACORN STAKES DRAW
Prior to that score, Kauai Katie took the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes Jan. 26 and the six-furlong Old Hat Stakes Jan. 1 at Gulfstream Park, both by open lengths. Her only loss in seven starts thus far was a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last year after winning the 6 ½-furlong Adirondack Stakes and the six-furlong Matron Stakes off a 12-length maiden debut sprinting 5 ½ furlongs. Regular rider John Velazquez gets the call from the rail.
Midnight Lucky, also a speedster, set the pace in the Oaks and finished fifth in just her third start for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. Prior to that outing, the daughter of Midnight Lute won the 1 1/16-mile Sunland Park Oaks by eight lengths March 24 with a handy outside move after vying early on for command. She broke her maiden by 7 ¼ lengths sprinting 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita Park Feb. 16. Rosie Napravnik will ride from the 5 hole.
Close Hatches was undefeated in three starts for Juddmonte Farms going into the Oaks, but did not show much effort after swinging five wide into the lane in Churchill's filly classic. She finished seventh.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott sent Close Hatches, by First Defence, to a strong 3 ¼-length score in the April 6 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct prior to her Oaks attempt. The 1 1/8-mile Gazelle was her first time at the distance; she won a 1 1/16-mile allowance event at Gulfstream by 1 ¼ lengths off a Jan. 26 maiden romp by seven going seven furlongs at the South Florida oval. Joel Rosario will ride from the far outside.
Second in the Gazelle was Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar. Fifth in the Gazelle was Elizabeth J. Valando's homebred Let Me Entertain U, who won the Beru Stakes going a mile and 70 yards on the inner track for trainer Tom Albertrani one start prior March 3. The Nobiz Like Shobiz filly returns in this spot under Jose Ortiz from the 3 hole.
Spendthrift Farm's Malibu Moon filly Cue the Moon starts for the first time since a third in the March 30 Gulfstream Oaks, 25 ¾ lengths behind Dreaming of Julia's impressive score. That start was her 2013 debut for trainer H. James Bond; she ran second by a hard-fought neck to My Happy Face in the one-mile Tempted Stakes last November off a ½-length maiden win over Emollient, who went on to impressively win the Central Bank Ashland Stakes during the spring meet at Keeneland.
Bond will also saddle William L. Clifton, Jr.'s maiden winner Momentary Magic. Luis Saez rides the daughter of Indian Charlie from post 2 while Javier Castellano rides Cue the Moon from post 4.