Amy Tarrant’s 5-year-old Kiss the Kid may have gone off at odds of 46-1 in the Feb. 2 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream, but a strong third-place finish in that race has him looking like the favorite for the March 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II).
The $350,000 event, 1 3/16-miles over the dirt track, has drawn a limited field of five. It will be a seventh start on the main track for Kiss the Kid, who has raced 18 times overall and whose maiden win came in 2006 on the turf at the Meadowlands.
Tarrant, who trains her own runners, had the versatile son of Lemon Drop Kid running over turf prior to the Donn, when he finished fourth behind Host in the Jan. 4 Canadian Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT), and third behind Presious Passion in the Dec. 15 W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT).
In the Donn, Kiss the Kid pressed the pace behind Daaher and actually held a brief lead on the far turn before finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind Spring at Last and A.P. Arrow.
“There was a short second there where we actually thought we might win it, but we were very pleased to be one of the top three,” Tarrant said. “He’s had nice races on dirt and I didn’t want to relegate him to the grass; his highest Beyers were on dirt and I’m really happy we did it because he ran a great race. Now I feel like I owe (another dirt start to) him.”
Before those two turf starts, Kiss the Kid won the Oct. 19 Cozzene Stakes over a sloppy track at the Meadowlands by 5 3/4 lengths after that race was forced off the turf. Bred in Kentucky by Jayeff B Stables out of the Danzig mare Black Tie Kiss, he was a $270,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Tarrant’s Hardacre Farm in 2004.
“He’s been with me since he was a yearling, and it’s been really gratifying to see what he’s accomplished,” said Tarrant. “He’s a real bulldog, not the type you turn your back on. He’s a big, strong colt, and we’ve put up with a lot from him but we don’t mind because he’s worth it. He’s been knocking at the door for a long time, so we hope he gets it.”
Team Valor’s 5-year-old Fairbanks finished fifth in the Donn, 2 1/2 lengths behind Kiss the Kid, but the Todd Pletcher trainee may vie for the favorite’s role based on his overall record and connections. Bred in Kentucky by Kidder, Grigg, and J&J Mamakos out of the Time for a Change mare Alaska Queen, the Giant's Causeway colt was making his first start in the Donn since a fifth-place finish behind stablemate A.P. Arrow in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs last November. Among his best efforts last year were runner-up efforts in the Suburban Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont and the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs.
Trainer Jimmy Toner sends Harvey Weinstein’s Sir Whimsey back into graded contention after a two-length allowance victory going 1 1/8-miles at Gulfstream Jan. 16. The 4-year-old Jump Start colt, bred in Virginia out of the Star de Naskra mare Apogee, was second behind Summer Doldrums in the Feb. 10 Whirlaway Stakes but took some time off after a fifth-place finish behind Sightseeing in the May 20 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II).
“We sent him to South Carolina and turned him out, brought him back last fall, and he’s doing great,” Toner said. “We’re just hoping for a little pace in there. He’s the kind of horse that’s steady-running. If there’s a lot of pace, he’s going to be far out of it, but if it isn’t as fast he can lay a little closer. He’s a nice horse to ride. He’s a good steady horse who gives you his race.”
Trainer Kevin Attard sends out the Canada-bred Leonnatus Anteas, a 4-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic , and Allen Jerkens will saddle the 6-year-old Pulpit runner Wood Be Willing to complete the field.
$350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II, race 9, approximate post 5:22 EST), 1 3/16-miles, older horses, dirt
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Wood Be Willing (KY), 6, 115, Jose Lezcano
2. Fairbanks (KY), 5, 115, John Velazquez
3. Kiss the Kid (KY), 5, 115, Eddie Castro
4. Sir Whimsey (VA), 4, 117, Edgar Prado
5. Leonnatus Anteas (ON), 4, 115, Eibar Coa