Slipping to a Win

- -

Kisser N Run ranged into contention, ready to swoop down on The Grey Express and Opera Heroine as the leaders left the rail and angled out for the final hurdle in the Peapack. Roll the ball, pins fall, take the picture. Then Kisser N Run slipped, losing her hind end and sprawling like a dog on a wet floor.

Robbie Walsh thought it was over. Richard Valentine thought it was over. Kisser N Run made sure it was not over.

The 5-year-old mare picked herself up and aimed at the leaders, touching down at the last in third, but rolling. Clarke Ohrstrom’s mare ousted Opera Heroine and The Grey Express on the short run to the wire to win the Peapack for the second year in a row. Winless in between, Kisser N Run relished her return to Moorland Farm.

Coming off two rough trips at Saratoga, Kisser N Run excelled in her return with a polished effort.

“She traveled pretty well, we were going such a gallop that not many can travel that gallop, when I did squeeze and chirp she was always right there so I set my hands down again and relax,” Walsh said. “I tried to be as quiet for as long as possible without giving distance to the ones who I thought would be tough. She relishes the easier ground and the uphill for the last two furlongs.”

Walsh’s confidence surged during the race, then waned when the mare nearly hit the deck coming out of the turn.

“Jumping the second-to-last, I thought Opera Heroine was the one to beat, she was traveling as well as I was,” Walsh said. “Then she slipped turning the bend, it felt like somebody sideswiped me, she almost turned sideways, her head nearly hit my face. I was like, ‘It’s over.’ When we straightened, I gunned her, earlier than I wanted, but I had to, she picked up long at the last, she had been jumping on the careful, safer side, she came up at the last, fair play to her.”

A winner of two $5,000 claimers on the flat, Kisser N Run won her hurdle debut at Foxfield for trainer Lilith Boucher last fall. Valentine purchased Kisser N Run after the race and aimed at the Peapack. She repaid the investment immediately with a facile score over Cordillera and Lillehammer. Competition heightened. She finished fifth in the Crown Royal to finish 2012. This spring, she finished seven lengths behind Maya Charli in the Georgia Cup lost a brutal nose decision to Well Fashioned in the Henley. Summer proved a bust, she suffered through a fourth and sixth at Saratoga this summer. Making just her seventh career start, Kisser N Run rebounded at her favorite spot, increasing her hurdle earnings to over $121,000.

“I don’t know why she likes Far Hills so much, her jumping was much better than it’s ever been. I thought she had been training incredibly well,” Valentine said. “She nearly fell down on the turn, for her to battle back, I was impressed. She just seemed to be on her game.”