Kinsman Stable’s Vanquisher and Hardacre Farm’s Kiss the Kid, the only two starters with stakes wins so far this season, lead a wide-open field of 11 older horses in the $100,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Gulfstream turf March 28 .
Vanquisher has won two of three starts in 2009, beginning with an allowance score on the Tampa Bay Downs grass Jan. 4. The following month the 5-year-old gelding by Gulch took the one-mile Tallahassee Stakes at Gulfstream by a half-length at odds of 8-1. The Florida homebred came back three weeks later and placed fourth, less than two lengths in back of the winner, in the Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT).
Trained by Greg Griffith, Vanquisher has posted consecutive bullet works at Tampa Bay leading up to the 7 1/2-furlong Appleton. Overall, he is 6-3-0 from 16 lifetime turf starts. Carlos Montalvo will get the mount.
Kiss the Kid has been in nice form since October when winning the Cliff Hanger (gr. IIIT) at Meadowlands. He began his 2009 season with a narrow victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ft. Lauderdale Stakes Jan. 10 at Gulfstream and though finishing fourth in the Feb. 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. IT), was just 1 1/4 lengths back of Kip Deville for it all.
Amy Tarrant trains Kiss the Kid, a 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid. An earner of more than $500,000, the dark bay horse has won seven of 26 lifetime starts.
Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start has made just four of his 28 lifetime starts on grass, but two of them have been wins. The Jump Start horse was last seen finishing third in the seven-furlong Richter Scale (gr. II) Feb. 14 on the Gulfstream dirt. In his only other start this year Bold Start was a runner-up in allowance company. His last start on turf came in October at Keeneland when finishing fifth in the Woodford Stakes. Kent Desormeaux will ride for Ken McPeek.
French-bred gelding Passager is also worthy of consideration based on his Canadian Turf effort, where he finish fifth but was just 2 1/4 lengths from the front in his U.S. debut. Roger Attfield trains the son of Anabaa, who will break from the inside with Jose Lezcano aboard.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Cannonball, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2007, makes his second start of the season after finishing fourth in allowance company in February.
Entering the Appleton off of allowance wins are Brazilian-bred Granzino, Avanti Avanti, and Artic Cry. Hypocrite, winner of the Sunshine State Stakes three weeks ago, was entered for main track only.
The Appleton, set for 6:15 p.m. EDT, will go to post right after the $750,000 Florida Derby (gr. I).