08/07/2007 11:00PM

Exchanging Fire stepping up


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Exchanging Fire, a dominant winner of consecutive overnight stakes, faces her biggest challenge Sunday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park.

Claimed by Kenwood Racing for $50,000 in March at Gulfstream, Exchanging Fire posted front-running victories here in the Without Feathers and Serena's Song stakes. The filly is in the best form of her career, as indicated by Beyer Speed Figures of 99 and 95 in those efforts.

Kenwood chairman Robb Levinsky believes Exchanging Fire is ready for her graded debut.

"We are a little nervous and excited but very confident," Levinsky said. "We do believe that we have a filly of this quality and more. We really feel the horse is ready for this race and whoever goes in there will have to beat her."

A small field of five or six is forming for the 1 1/16-mile stakes.

In addition to Exchanging Fire, Monmouth stakes coordinator Mike Melendez lists the following as likely Oaks runners: Adhrhythm, fourth in the Serena's Song; Lady Marlboro, third in the Serena's Song as the 8-5 favorite; Talkin About Love, a New Jersey-bred filly unbeaten in four races this season; and Crumbs of Comfort.

With her abundant speed, Exchanging Fire will be the one to catch. She doesn't show a workout since joining trainer Stephen Mick at Philadelphia Park in May. Exchanging Fire has thrived on a steady diet of gallops and she will follow the same pattern coming into this race.

"She's got lots of foundation," Levinsky said. "Steve is really confident in the program she is on, and she will come into the race dead fit. She has the natural speed. All he's tried to do is keep her fit between races. It has clearly been the right move."

Kiss the Kid targets Red Bank

Kiss the Kid turned in the race of his life Sunday in the Oceanport Stakes on the Haskell Day undercard.

The 4-year-old Kiss the Kid finished second in the Grade 3 turf stakes, only one length behind Silent Roar and one spot ahead of Grade 1 winner Kip Deville, while earning a 102 career-best Beyer.

"We're very excited," owner-trainer Amy Tarrant said. "This horse is getting better every day. In just about every race, he's had to tough it out against really nice horses. He's become a real competitor, he fights to the end. It's made him stronger and he's maturing."

Kiss the Kid will likely bid for his first stakes victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Red Bank here on Sept. 1. The Red Bank is one mile, a sixteenth shorter than the Oceanport.

"He's got speed, so it would just be a matter of getting him going a little sooner," Tarrant said.

Prop Me Up eyes Meadowlands meet

Prop Me Up stepped up and delivered a stakes victory in her debut for trainer Greg Sacco on Sunday in the Lady's Secret Stakes.

The Silly Goose Stable made a trainer change, transferring Prop Me Up from Kelly Breen to Sacco, who credits the former conditioner.

"She came to us in good shape," Sacco said. "Timing is everything. We just trained her accordingly and she ran as gamely for us as she had for Kelly."

Prop Me Up is a versatile mare who has been competitive on turf and dirt. With a range of options, Sacco has not zeroed in on her next race, other than to say she will probably appear next in September at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

"You're in the catbird seat with her," Sacco said. "We'll nominate to some turf stakes and, if they come off, you're in the driver's seat. From a trainer's standpoint, it's nice to have a filly that versatile."

Way With Words stretching out

Way With Words has the least experience but most potential Friday in the $50,000 second-level allowance feature for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at one mile.

Trained by Mary Eppler at Pimlico, Way With Words has 2 wins in 4 starts. This marks the first time the 3-year-old will venture beyond six furlongs.

She most recently was second in a second-level sprint for statebreds on July 28.

Chuckie Lopez has the return call.

Talent Search wins Teddy Drone

Talent Search ($3.60) scored a front-running win by 6 1/4 lengths over Suave Jazz on Wednesday in the $100,000 Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The six-furlong sprint was originally slated for Sunday but failed to attract enough runners. The rescheduled contest attracted a field of five who chased Talent Search in vain.

Talent Search, ridden by Ryan Fogelsonger for trainer Mark Shuman, was clocked in 1:08.99. It was his third win in six starts this year and first outing since running second to Diabolical in the Maryland Sprint Handicap on May 19.

Who's the Cowboy was third, followed by Joey P. and Herecomeshollywood.