Like most horses, Katie Said is referred to by another moniker than the one assigned to her by registration papers and while it initially may not appear to be complimentary, as it refers to the most iconic horror figure in pop culture for the last century, oddly enough it sums up how she has been performing early in her 2016 campaign: like a monster.
“(Trainer) Jimmy (Takter) refers to her as Frankenstein,” said Barry Guariglia, the five-year-old mare’s owner on behalf of his Black Horse Racing enterprise. “She has always had a mind of her own and things have to be done her way.
“For example, Jimmy has equipment that is akin to an equine hot tub. There was one day she did not want to cooperate while she was in it and when she was brought out was such a handful she required eight stitches on one of her legs.
“Jimmy has a way with mares and has done a terrific job with this one. There are times when he refers to her, he just shakes his head and has a smile on his face, but we think he is really keeping her happy and are looking forward to this year with her.”
The daughter of Well Said and the Cam Fella mare Katies Lucky Lady will seek to add a fourth consecutive triumph to this season’s resume when she competes in the $200,000 Betsy Ross Invitational on Sunday (May 29) at Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack.
She enters the contest off three extremely powerful performances. Two were in $25,000 Filly and Mare Opens at the Meadowlands on April 22 and April 29 and then another came in a $25,000 event at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 13. On April 29 she equaled the swiftest mile of her career in 1:49.4 and in her most recent trip to the post the mare traveled from last to first for her 17th lifetime trip to the winner’s circle.
In her upcoming engagement, which is included on a lucrative stakes laden program, Katie Said will leave from post position five and will retain the services of her regular pilot Brett Miller. Despite her record and how she has paced this year, the mare is the fourth selection on the morning line at 6-1. The competition, however, is significant.
Other members of the field include 2015 multiple stakes winner Devil Child (5-2), 2015 Dan Patch champion Venus Delight (7-2) and last year’s Breeders Crown victress Colors A Virgin (4-1). Toss in the 2015 Jugette winner Sassa Hanover (10-1), this year’s Blue Chip Matchmaker final winner Yagonnakissmeornot (7-1) and the intriguing import Sell A Bit N (15-1) and it is a stellar field.
“We purchased her in partnership with Andy and Julie Miller as a yearling for $67,000,” Guariglia said. “They saw her first and picked her out. She comes from a very nice female family [half-sibling to Kikikatie (Real Artist, $1,415,566), Just Wait Kate (Real Artist, $387,931), Katies Western (Western Ideal, $120,100) and Kiss Me Kate (Real Artist, $284,820)]. She always had ability and the first two years she raced Julie trained her. She made just over $200,000, but she was lightly raced. Because of her stubborn streak we brought her along slowly and then I ended up buying Julie and Andy out. That is when I sent her to Jimmy.”
Since taking up residence in the Hall of Fame conditioner’s shedrow, Katie Said has turned herself into a consistent mare that is improving with age. Last year she amassed a record of 20-4-3-4 and banked $137,702. She competed admirably in all the major stakes for her age, sex and gender, but her connections feel over the course of the next six months the mare will illustrate she is among the elite in a very strong division.
“We really think she is poised to have an outstanding season,” said Guariglia, who also owned and campaigned world champion and Dan Patch Award winner Stienams Place. “You really have to do things her way and at times that has been an issue for her in some of her races, but we think that is behind her now. She is more focused this year and Brett is an excellent fit for driving her. He gets along with her very well and takes the time to adjust to her style. Also, Jimmy changed her groom and she is much calmer. She is no longer trying to take a bite out of anyone. He thinks she is a happy horse and with his record I take his word for it.”
Guariglia has been actively involved in harness racing since he purchased his first horse, Dakota Hanover, in 1987. He was introduced to the sport as a fan through the efforts of the now deceased trainer/driver Mike Gagliardi. Both men hailed from Newark, N.J. and Guariglia credits his former trainers Gene and Bruce Riegle for teaching him how to spot premium horseflesh.
This is a lesson he has put to good use, as his small broodmare band has produced such exceptional individuals as Put On A Show and Yonkers Trot winner Green Day, but Guariglia also purchases yearlings to race and participates in every angle of the business.
Although Katie Said’s past accomplishments may not be as prolific as Stienams Place or some of the other horses Guariglia’s enterprise has produced, he strongly believes in her ability and is clear in regards to what the ultimate goal is for his mare, who now has earned $397,746 from 45 trips to the gate.
“We want that Breeders Crown victory for her this year,” he said. “We were disappointed last year when she made the break at a very inopportune moment (in the stretch). We thought she was going to win when she started to make her move and then that happened.
“As I emphasized, she has her own way about her and when there was a horse rushing up next to her on the inside, her driver might have grabbed her up a bit. That was what we think was just enough to cause the break because that is how she is. Something little like that is just enough to set her off, but we are confident we have those issues ironed out and we want that win after her name. That is our plan and we feel this is the year for it to happen.”
$200,000 Betsy Ross Invitational
1. Yagonnakissmeornot - Daniel Dube - Rene Allard - 7-1
2. Sassa Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 10-1
3. Venus Delight - Tim Tetrick - Jeffrey Bamond Jr. - 7-2
4. Devil Child - Brian Sears - Chris Oakes - 5-2
5. Katie Said - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 6-1
6. Waasmula - Trevor Henry - Bruce Goit - 20-1
7. Sell A Bit N - Jordan Stratton - Peter Tritton - 15-1
8. Colors A Virgin - David Miller - Brian Brown - 4-1
(with files from the USTA)