Pants N Kisses Edges Home in Victoria Park

(from Woodbine track report)
Pants N Kisses, ridden by Constant Montpellier, shocked a number of Queen's Plate candidates by charging down the stretch to win the $136,875 Victoria Park Stakes Sunday at Woodbine.

At the wire of the 1 1/8-mile contest, timed in 1:53.12, it was the three longest shots on the tote board. Kentucky-bred Pants N Kisses, at 16-1, fended off 13-1 Dance Engagement by a neck, with 26-1 Tracy's Tonka Toy 1 1/2 lengths further back in third. Meanwhile, Quiet Dare, the 2-1 favorite, faded down the stretch to finish fifth, three lengths behind.

As the field headed around the far turn, Illusive Force, Tracy's Tonka Toy and Quiet Dare had raced together on the front end of the tightly-bunched field of seven. But when they straightened away, Montpellier, fourth on the rail with Pants N Kisses, was able to find an opening and angle out for a clear run at the leaders. The son of Mr. Greeley seized control inside the sixteenth pole, then safely held the on-rushing Dance Engagement.

"He's trained very, very well since his last race," said trainer and co-owner David Cotey. "He's been bucking and kicking out there. We thought he'd put in a good performance. I didn't know if he was up to these horses or not but we knew he'd try. We thought he'd run fairly well. I didn't know he'd win."

It was the second career win for 3-year-old Pants N Kisses, who made his seasonal bow a winning one in March by taking a $32,000 maiden claimer. In his last effort, he'd finished a troubled third to Solihull in an allowance route event. With today's winning purse of $82,125, the bay gelding has now earned almost $125,000. Not bad considering his $1,000, purchase price at the Keeneland October yearling sale of 2001.

"I was sitting comfortable between those three horses the whole way," Montpellier said. "I had tons of horse. I was just hoping for a little opening. When I swung him out, he just took off and held (Dance Engagement) off."

While the winner isn't eligible to the $1-million Queen's Plate June 22, the second through sixth place finishers are. Most impressive may have been the maiden Dance Engagement, trained by John Ross, making only his second career start.

The Victoria Park is considered the last prep for the Plate.

Pants N Kisses paid $34.70, $12.40 and $5.70, combining with Dance Engagement ($11.40, $6.00) for a $342.80 (3-4) exacta. With Tracy's Tonka Toy ($6.70) the trifecta returned $2,395.40.

(Chart, Equibase)