The secret is out. Kayla Grace has quietly gone undefeated in 15 lifetime starts, racing under the radar in Michigan.
This Friday she will step onto the big stage in the first major stakes race of the season for three-year-old fillies, the $110,000 Courageous Lady at Northfield Park. She was supplemented at the last minute for $10,000 and stands as the morning line 3-1 favorite.
Kayla Grace is owned by long-time Michigan owners Ed and Cheryl Sayfie of Rockford, Michigan. She was named for their two-year-old granddaughter. Kayla Grace is trained by renowned Michigan trainer Marie St. Charles. She will be driven on Friday by her regular driver, Brad Kramer.
Kayla Grace comes into the event with 15 wins, all in the state of Michigan. Most of the victories have been in Michigan Sire Stakes races. She was named Michigan's Two-Year-old Filly of the Year for 2013. Kayla Grace was the winningest two-year-old filly in North America going 12-for-12 and banking $62,277.
Kayla's Grace was bought by partners Ed and Cheryl Mayfie and Marie St. Charles and her husband Kevin at a private horse sale. She was purchased for the now bargain price of $10,000.
"We took her to Hazel Park and schooled her once behind the gate," said her trainer, Marie St. Charles. "She acted like she went from kindergarten to college. We raced her in the Michigan Fair Circuit at the start, and she started beating everyone she faced. She is a nice little filly who loves to race.
"She is definitely one of the better fillies I ever trained," said St. Charles. "I trained Doc's Hope for Andrew Roberts. She was an awesome mare. We went in 1:50 with her at Woodbine. I don't know if Kayla Grace can fit in her category or not. We raced Kayla mostly at the fairs and Doc's raced mostly at the big tracks.
"We are going to learn a lot about this filly on Friday," said St. Charles. "I am either going to go home with a smile or wonder why I supplemented her for $10,000. We don't know where the bottom is since she has was won her races by so many lengths. The one thing I got going for me is she knows how to win. It's just an honor to be in a race like this.
"She has raced mostly on the front end to stay out of trouble," added St. Charles. "She can race anyway. Kayla can race from behind. You don't teach a horse anything racing on the front. This will be a test. She is going to be in with top horses who know how to race. We can only wish for the best.
"Brad Kramer is going to drive the horse," explained St. Charles. "Brad was not going to go to Northfield, but now he is. I was going to put Ronnie Wrenn Jr. on to drive. Brad changed his mind. I love Ronnie but I am happier that Brad is driving the horse. Brad knows the horse and this makes it better for me."
"The owner, Ed Sayfie, and myself have been partners on many horses in the past," said Kramer. "These are the people who owned Admirals Express. I have been partners with them for twenty years.. I talked to Ed and decided to go.
"She is a very talented horse," said Kramer. "I didn't know how she stood as a really good horse until recently. The last couple of starts at Hazel Park she has done what real good horses do. She can leave hard, relax in the middle, and have an even faster quarter at the end. It takes a very special horse to be able to do that. Two starts back she really impressed me. She went a really big mile and still came home in 27.3 into a very strong headwind.
"She has raced mostly on the front end to stay out of trouble," explained Kramer. "Kayla raced from behind her very first start. She comes off the helmet so much better than she races on the front. When she gets in with better quality and she can follow, this will be a hell of a horse. She has all the things you need to be a great horse. She can relax but turn on that speed twice in a mile. We will know a lot more on Friday, in Cleveland."
"I have had people ask me if she is for sale," said St. Charles. "We really haven't put a price on her. We really don't know what her true value is right now. We have her nominated for the Cinderella at Maywood, the Circle City at Hoosier, and the Hanover at Balmoral. She has the whole Michigan Sire Stakes Circuit. Maybe with all this publicity someone will call to buy the horse. Everything is for sale."
On Friday we will know if the Cinderella story continues. Will Kayla Grace go from racing for $3,000 a night on the Michigan Circuit to winning a $110,000 major race? The phone may be ringing off the hook with offers come Saturday morning.
by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com