Veteran jockey Calvin Borel, making his first-ever appearance in a race at Golden Gate Fields, drove Delightful Kiss past favored Awesome Gem for a one-length victory in the $211,800 All American Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) Sept. 27.
Borel rode Hobeau Farm's homebred Delightful Kiss to victory in the Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III) last time out over the Polytrack surface and, at the request of trainer Pete Anderson, agreed to come to Northern California to guide the 4-year-old gelding once again. The victory over Golden Gate's Tapeta racing surface at 1 1/8 miles made Delightful Kiss two-for-two on synthetic tracks. The final time, 1:49.54, established a track mark on the new surface.
The win at Turfway, also accomplished in a track record time of 2:32.28 for 1 1/2 miles, had qualified the son of Kissin Kris for the inaugural Breeders' Cup Marathon over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride racing surface Oct. 25. Delightful Kiss is the only horse trained by Anderson, a former jockey who rode for 25 years.
"I'm floating on air right now," said Anderson. "Having a horse like this is a lifelong dream. Not to be a wise guy, but I thought this race was over on the turn."
Anderson who said he might consider sending Delightful Kiss in the BC Classic rather than the Marathon, has decided that his charge will remain at Golden Gate Fields to complete his training for the Breeders' Cup.
"He likes cooler weather, and he trains well on this track so we'll stay here until maybe four or five days before the Breeders' Cup," he said.
Awesome Gem, the 7-10 favorite ridden by Russell Baze, and Delightful Kiss brought up the rear in the seven-horse field as 25-1 shot Victorian Prince set an honest pace -- :23.48, :47. 17 and 1:36.86 -- while maintaining a one-length advantage over Assessment. Awesome Gem began to close the gap at the three-eighths mark, and after shifting to the outside, swept past the leaders in the stretch. Delightful Kiss, however, was right behind him on the extreme outside, engaging the favorite mid-stretch and gradually edging away.
"He went the last five-sixteenths of a mile so fast it was unbelievable," said Borel. "My horse has a tremendous turn of foot and I'm really looking forward to riding him in the Breeders' Cup."
It was eight lengths back to Saratoga's Magic, who was followed by Asperity, Assessment, Our Partner, and Victorian Prince.
Winner of the Ohio Derby (gr. II) last year, Delightful Kiss ran his record to 6-3-2 in 20 starts with earnings of $708,887. The All American win was worth $131,800.
Sent off as the second choice, Delightful Kiss paid $6.40, $2.60, and $2.10. Awesome Gem, now second in nine of his 20 lifetime starts for trainer Craig Dollase, returned $2.20 and $2.10. Saratoga Magic, ridden by Roberto Gonzalez, was $2.60 to show.