Top Kisser proved she can handle the heat when she came from off the pace to win the $100,000 L.A. Woman Stakes (gr. III) as undefeated Emerald Downs shipper Stopshoppingdebbie fizzled when favored at Santa Anita Park Oct. 4 (VIDEO).
It was 104 degrees in Arcadia, Calif. at post time for the L.A. Woman and the heat may have been too much for Stopshoppingdebbie. The 2-1 choice, winner of all nine of her prior starts in the Northwest, never factored while finishing fifth in the field of six fillies and mares.
Ridden by Elvis Trujillo, the narrow second choice Top Kisser swept to the lead in the stretch and drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths while clocking 6 1/2 furlongs in a sharp 1:14.84.
Tommy Town Thoroughbreds' California homebred, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, posted her first graded stakes win and seventh victory overall in 14 lifetime starts. A daughter of Old Topper out of the Cherokee Run mare Cherokee Kiss, Top Kisser won the Spring Fever Stakes in April at Santa Anita and the California Governor's Cup at Cal Expo July 19.
"If I can get in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), I'd like to do that," Hollendorfer said afterward. "I don't know if we'll get in, but we'll see."
Breaking from the rail, Top Kisser settled in third as Uzziel and Tribal Gal separated themselves from the field and sped through quarter-mile fractions of :21.48 and :44.22. Given her cue by Trujillo from about four lengths off the leaders rounding the turn, Top Kisser angled out for the drive and overcame Tribal Gal in upper stretch as Uzziel gave way. Top Kisser kicked clear through the lane for an impressive victory while drifting in a bit under urging.
"She broke sharp, we had a good position and I knew they were going too fast on the front end—21, 44 for the half," Trujillo said. "I knew they had to stop. I asked her at the quarter pole and she kicked on."
Tribal Gal, coming off a gate-to-wire score in the Orange County Stakes as Los Alamitos Sept. 7, saw her two-race win streak come to an end with a second-place finish under Rafael Bejarano. It was 1 3/4 lengths farther back to My Happy Face, who put in a mild rally for Joe Talamo to secure the third spot. Maker Or Breaker was fourth, followed by Stopshoppingdebbie and Uzziel.
Stopshoppingdebbie, tracking the winner from fourth down the backstretch after bobbling at the break, was unable to quicken rounding the turn and struggled home.
"It felt like I had horse around the turn, but she didn't go on with it," said Rocco Bowen, regular rider of Stopshoppingdebbie. "I don't want to use it as an excuse, but if felt like she was getting a hold of the track like 50-50. I'm thankful to be on her; she's better than this."
Extending her career earnings to $407,100, Top Kisser returned $6.20, $3.40, and $2.80 while carrying 119 pounds. Tribal Gal paid $6.40 and $3.40, rounding out a $35 exacta, while My Happy Face was $3.40 to show.