02/14/2009 1:00AM

French Kiss goes last to first


French Kiss became a stakes winner on Valentine's Day, when she closed from last to first for a neck win the $50,000 Pippin to thrill an Oaklawn Park crowd of 21,604.

Day of Victory held second, a neck in front of third-place finisher Color Me Up.

French Kiss ($29.80) trailed the field by many lengths early on, as favorite Maren's Meadow moved to the lead into the first turn of the 1o1/16-mile race for fillies and mares and put up fractions of 23.32 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.55 for the half-mile, and 1:12.47 for six furlongs. French Kiss moved up into the final turn, angled out into the stretch, then ran down the entire field. She covered the distance on a fast track in 1:44.38.

"She's got a big heart," said Joe Johnson, who was aboard the winner for trainer Gary Hartlage.

French Kiss earned $30,000 for the win, which was her second at the meet behind an opening-day allowance score by a head Jan. 16. She races for her breeder, Anita Cauley, and is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner High Heels. French Kiss has now earned $196,501.