02/14/2008 12:00AM

Kettleoneup starts her year


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Kettleoneup's road to the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom will begin on Saturday when she makes her season debut in the $50,000 Pippin at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares is one of two local preps for the April 5 Apple Blossom.

Kettleoneup is part of a six-horse field for the Pippin, which lost a key player this week with the retirement of Grade 2 winner High Heels. The cast is still an interesting one, however, with Lemon Drop Mom, a winner of two stakes in her last three starts, making her season debut in the race and Gasia and Beat the Band representing the female-rich barn of trainer Larry Jones.

Kettleoneup will be making her first start since Nov. 22, when she upset Panty Raid in the Grade 2, $325,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. She trailed the field for a good portion of the 1 1/8-mile race and then closed with authority for a 3 1/4-length win. It was Kettleoneup's biggest career victory.

"In retrospect, what impressed me about the race was the lack of pace, and yet she still ran by two Grade 1 winners," said Mike Tomlinson, who trains Kettleoneup for Tom Crouch. "With a horse that comes from off of it like her, you're always concerned about the pace, and she did it with such ease that day."

Tomlinson freshened the 5-year-old Kettleoneup after the Falls City, and for her return she shows some strong works at Oaklawn. She was an allowance winner here a year ago before going on to win three stakes, including the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne.

"She seems to be improving with age, and obviously if you look at her form, the two turns was a big key," said Tomlinson. "She relishes two turns, and the further you go the better she gets."

Kettleoneup will break from post 6 under Calvin Borel.

Lemon Drop Mom owns the field's best last-race Beyer Speed Figure, a 100, earned for her win in the $56,000 Ghost Goblin at Delaware Park on Oct. 31. Clinton Potts has the mount for trainer Tim Ritchey.

* With new faces Riley Tucker and Gangbuster expected, the prospective field for the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest for 3-year-olds here Monday has grown to 11. The probable favorite is Turf War, winner of the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot in December.