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Kiss With a Twist takes Wintergreen Stakes

Saturday, March 7, 2009 12:00 AM
  • General
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 7, 2009 . . . Kiss With a Twist earned her second Turfway Park stakes trophy Saturday, wearing down the leader in the stretch and taking the $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes by three-quarters of a length. Final time for the mile was 1:37.61.

Jockey Billy Troilo kept Kiss With a Twist behind the moderate pace set by Unspoken Word, who broke from the outside of the five-horse field and had the lead before the first turn. Racing without pressure, Unspoken Word led by two and three lengths down the backstretch, setting the pace at :24.42 and :48.25 through half. She still led at the quarter pole, clocking the distance in 1:12.70, but by then Troilo had moved Kiss With a Twist up to challenge. The two fought side by side, with 'Kiss' having a slight lead, until Unspoken Word gave way in mid-stretch. She dropped back to finish third, 1 1/2 lengths behind De Star Xpress, who closed like a fresh horse to nearly catch the winner.

"It set up that the 8 [Unspoken Word] was the only speed, and my filly is a one-run filly," said Troilo. "She'd been off since December so I didn't know how'd she do going the mile, but she left the gate good and put herself in a good position. The good horses know how to do that. I knew I had the 8 at any time, but I didn't want to push my filly too early because of the layoff. Once we got by the 8 I looked back and saw the 4 [De Star Xpress] was gaining on us, so I gave her one tap and kept her moving forward."

"I wasn't sure how tight she was off the layoff," said winning trainer Jose Fernandez, who trains Kiss With a Twist at Calumet Farm. "I lost a lot of training [due to weather]. I was afraid of Unspoken Word, but [Kiss With a Twist] has tons of heart and a lot of talent. She's always been very consistent, but she seemed to get better as a 4-year-old and I think she might be even better this year."

A 5-year-old mare by Lemon Drop Kid, Kiss With a Twist has six wins, four seconds, and four thirds from 20 career starts and earnings of $289,508. In addition to her wins in the Wintergreen and My Charmer stakes at Turfway, she was graded stakes-placed last year at Churchill Downs and Arlington Park.

Winning owner Alfred Nuckols Jr. said he hoped the win would set up Kiss With a Twist for turf races at Keeneland next month. "We're having a lot of fun racing her," he said. "With the market like it is there’s no rush to breed her, so we’re just going to keep having fun with her."

Kiss With a Twist was the 5-2 second choice in the Wintergreen, with Unspoken Word favored at 4-5. The winner paid $7.80, $4.00 and $2.40.

Completing the order of finish were Valentine Fever, who was close early but faded in the final turn, and Marquee Delivery, who resisted loading in the gate and never got into the race.

One Million Carats, Steady Prospect, Park At Dark, and Ready to Rock scratched. The latter two are entered for Sunday’s sixth race instead, an allowance optional claiming event.

Racing continues Sunday at Turfway, with first post at 1:10 p.m.

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