Kiss the Devil Downs Mint Julep Field

Carl F. Pollard's stubborn Kiss The Devil overtook Crystal Sea in the stretch and held off favored Quick Tip by a neck in Saturday's $168,300 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

The 5-year-old daughter of Kris S., ridden by Lonnie Meche for trainer David Vance, captured the 1/16-mile turf event for Pollard, the chairman of Churchill Downs, in 1:41 3/5 at odds of 13-1.

Kiss The Devil raced in second, just to the outside of Crystal Sea through opening fractions of :23 2/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 1/5. As the field of nine reached the head of the stretch, Kiss The Devil got first run on the steadily gaining Quick Tip and jockey Robby Albarado, who trailed by seven lengths early but continued to close along with Cellars Shiraz in the stretch.

But Kiss The Devil refused to yield and was able to hold on under steady urging while Quick Tip edged closer all the way to the wire. Celllars Shiraz, ridden by Pat Day, was a length back in third, with Stylish a close fourth. San Dare was fifth.

"I thought (Crystal Sea) would show some speed and I was fine with her getting the lead," said Meche, who captured his third race on the card. "As long as my filly had something to look at she was comfortable. This is the second stakes I won with her and it was the same last year when she won at Ellis (Dade Turf Club). Dave (trainer Vance) told me that when we turned for home to get all I could get and not to wait for someone to come up and challenge us. I knew that Quick Tip would come late and she did."

Fifth in last year's Cardinal (gr. IIIT) on the Churchill turf, the Mint Julep was Kiss The Devil's first graded stakes score. The victory, her sixth in 21 career starts, pushed her career earnings over the $347,749 mark. She was seventh in last year's Mint Julep and three for nine on the Churchill Downs turf.

"That was fun," said Pollard. "She's been on the board 15 of 20 starts, so she's always been very honest. A couple of those starts were on the dirt, which is not her bag, but she's been on the board in 14 of 17 turf starts. She's always been right there, but sometimes she runs out of gas. I can tell you I was praying for the wire."

"We gambled a little bit by keeping her in training, but it was not much of a gamble. The thing about her is she's always been sound, knock on wood. The only thing she ever done in her life was buck her shins. She's always had a quirk in the gate. She's been one of those temperamental, high-strung mares. But other than that she's been a hundred percent sound and those kind of horses, if you feel like you can make some more with them, you might as well run 'em."

Vance said Kiss the Devil was almost retired to breeding.

"We gambled a little bit by keeping her in training, but it was not much of a gamble," he said. "The thing about her is she's always been sound, knock on wood. The only thing she ever done in her life was buck her shins. She's always had a quirk in the gate. She's been one of those temperamental, high-strung mares. But other than that she's been a hundred percent sound and those kind of horses, if you feel like you can make some more with them, you might as well run 'em."

Domino Stud of Lexington bred Kiss The Devil in Kentucky.

The winner paid $29.60, $11.80 and $6.40, Quick Tip returned $3.40 and $2.80. Cellars Shiraz showed for $4.40. The $2 exacta was worth $88.

(Chart, Equibase)

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