Hobeau Farm’s Florida homebred Delightful Kiss, who hadn’t won in more than 13 months and was well-beaten in all four starts this season, stretched out to 12 furlongs for the first time and enjoyed every moment of it, roaring through the stretch to win the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) by 1 1/4 lengths Sept. 6 on the Polytrack.
Well back through the first mile, Delightful Kiss made his winning move coming out of the final turn under Calvin Borel. The 4-year-old Kissin Kris gelding took over while coming four-wide into the stretch and held off challenges from Domincan and Star Plus.
Making his first start on a synthetic surface, Delightful Kiss completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:32.25. As part of the "Win and You're In" series, the victory earned him an automatic berth to Santa Anita for the inaugural running of the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon Oct. 25.
Argentine-bred Star Plus rallied well late to get up for second, a neck in front of Dominican. Canela was fourth in a field of 10.
Delightful Kiss had an outstanding 3-year-old season for trainer Pete Anderson, placing third in the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) and later in the year posting back-to-back wins in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) and Iowa Derby. After a fifth-place finish in the West Virginia Derby (gr. III), the gray horse was given more than nine months off. But his 4-year-old campaign got off to a poor start, as he could only manage a runner-up finish in the Calder’s Blazing Sword from four efforts. He finished seventh to Curlin in the Stephen Foster (gr. I) June 14 at Churchill Downs.
There was not much change through the first mile of the Fall Championship Stakes, as Canela took the field through pedestrian fractions of :25.11, :49.55, 1:15.50 and 1:41.66. A.P. Xcellent stalked the pace, with Telling and Star Plus in the next group. Dominican was also in contention under Miguel Mena, while Jade’s Revenge raced in mid-pack but was stuck along the rail.
Telling took over from the tiring leader at the quarter-pole, but held only a short advantage over Dominican and Delightful Kiss. Delightful Kiss sprinted to the front nearing the furlong marker, opened up a short lead and held off Dominican and Star Plus in the final sixteenth.
“I always wanted to ride this horse because he finished third to Street Sense (in the Tampa Bay Derby),” said Borel. “I worked him the other morning and he went very well. We had a great trip and he ran great.”
Delightful Kiss paid $19, $11.20 and $7.60. The exacta (2-3) returned $121.40, with the trifecta (2-3-10) netting $570.40.
Delightful Kiss is out of the French Deputy mare Deputy’s Delight. He is now 5-3-2 from 19 starts and has earned $577,087. Anderson said he plans on starting him one more time before the Breeders' Cup.
Telling was fifth, followed by Jade’s Revenge, Taconeo, Storm the Castle, Tres Copas and A.P. Xcellent.