Guineas Flash Back

Racing Media
7 November 2018
Group One races are the highest and hardest mountains to climb in thoroughbred racing. Only a select few horses will ever reach the summit, and in the whole of the last racing season, no New Zealand-trained horse did it more than once.
 
But in the space of a remarkable week in November 2009, the special filly Katie Lee made history. She won both of the Group One features held during the New Zealand Cup carnival at Riccarton Park in Christchurch – the New Zealand 2000 Guineas and the New Zealand 1000 Guineas. She was the first horse to complete the classic double, and it hasn’t been done again since.
 
The grey daughter of Pins carried the distinctive two-tone green colours of New Zealand’s thoroughbred breeding icons, former Cambridge Stud owners Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan. But she was bred by Hallmark Stud, and she only joined the Hogan racing team after catching Sir Patrick’s eye during the 2008 National Yearling Sales at Karaka. He bought her for $340,000.
“She walked into the ring, I saw her and bought her and she has turned out to be a hell of a good filly,” he said. “I was just leaning on the rail at the sales when I saw her and decided to buy her on the spot. She was from a good mare and by Pins, so I decided to have a go.”
She immediately showed promise, winning twice as a two-year-old including the Gr. 3 Eclipse Stakes in January 2009, and she added the Gr. 2 Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa the following October. But it was in Christchurch the following month that she really made her name.
 
Victory by a filly in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas has been relatively rare. In the 34 years from 1975 to 2008, only Facing The Music (1993), Foxwood (1997) and Clean Sweep (2004) conquered the boys. Katie Lee joined that group in 2009, and it hasn’t been done again since.
The $4.10 second favourite in a field of 15, Katie Lee was nicely positioned just worse than midfield as the 1600-metre race was run at a solid tempo.
It all could have gone disastrously wrong at the top of the straight as she was knocked sideways and hit off balance, but Katie Lee regathered herself and accelerated. With a blistering turn of foot, she burst past Military Move and Clapton to win by a length.
 
Katie Lee became the fourth New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner for jockey Opie Bosson. He now has a record seven wins in the race, most recently Embellish last year, and he will ride Sword Of Osman in the 2018 renewal.
“She’s something special,” said Graeme Rogerson, who trained Katie Lee in partnership with his wife Debbie. “You don’t see them any better than that, especially after getting flattened once then again at the furlong.
“Opie almost gave me a heart attack at the furlong, but great horses can do great things and she is a great horse.”
 
Just seven days after clocking 1:34.91 in that superb Group One win, Katie Lee lined up again in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas – this time against a talent-packed field of 18 fillies.
Again things went wrong in the running, over-racing early behind a slow pace and being significantly hampered at the 1400-metre and 1000-metre stages.
She had plenty of work to do as the field turned for home, but she warmed into her work and finished over the top of Keep The Peace to win by a half-neck.
“It was that rough a race, they kept slowing up, but I ended up getting out wide and she just didn't want the other horse to beat her,” Bosson said.
Adding more merit to Katie Lee’s unprecedented double, the 2000 Guineas runner-up Military Move went on to win the New Zealand Derby while Keep The Peace claimed the New Zealand Oaks, Mudgway Partsworld Stakes (now Tarzino Trophy) and Haunui Farm WFA Classic.
“I've had some great fillies, but this one could be the best,” Rogerson said.

Katie Lee mixed her form through the rest of her career, although she collected further black-type spoils in the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic, Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic and Gr. 3 Traderacks Stakes (now Spring Sprint).
She finished with a record of 23 starts for eight wins, eight placings and just over $1.1 million in prize-money.
She has already made an impact as a broodmare, with yearling progeny selling for $800,000, $375,000 and $1.025 million at Karaka. Legramor has won twice, while Simogramor has placed.

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