04/20/2007 12:00AM

Essex takes proven path with mare


AUBURN, Wash. - Kissntheboysgoodby looms as the one to beat in Sunday's top offering at Emerald Downs, a $50,000 optional claiming test at 5 1/2 furlongs that has drawn a field of 10 fillies and mares.

Kissntheboysgoodby, a 5-year-old daughter of Tropical Lightning from the barn of trainer Charles Essex, won a similar race in her first start here last season, and used that effort as a springboard to her first stakes win, which came at Emerald in the Hastings Park Handicap. The Hastings Park will be run here this year on May 20, and Essex is hoping that history will repeat itself.

"They both figure to be tough races, but she is doing very well now," he said.

Kissntheboysgoodby is coming off a three-race campaign at Turf Paradise that saw her place second in a pair of sprint stakes before winning the March 19 Ocean Bay Stakes going one mile on turf.

"I was very encouraged by that race," said Essex. "She had trouble getting a mile last year, but she is rating better now and I'm hoping that she has mellowed out enough to go farther this year."

Kissntheboysgoodby has a pair of wins at Sunday's 5 1/2-furlong distance.

Kissntheboysgoodby figures to receive her sternest challenges from route stakes winners Chestnut Lady, She's All Silk and Dinner at Arlene's, and from Roanaway Bride.

Roanaway Bride, a daughter of Runaway Groom trained by Doris Harwood, is something of a specialist at the 5 1/2-furlong distance. She has compiled a record of 2 wins, 2 seconds and 1 third from 5 tries at the trip.