02/15/2007 1:00AM

Kettleoneup steps up in Pippin


HOT SPRINGS, Ark - Kettleoneup has won 3 of her last 4 starts by a combined 31 1/2 lengths, and the only horse to finish in front of her during that time has gone on to become one of the top-ranked fillies in the country.

Kettleoneup was second to Sugar Shake in an allowance at Churchill Downs in November. One start later, Sugar Shake won the Grade 2 El Encino, and last Saturday she took the Grade 1 Santa Maria.

"With Sugar Shake winning the Grade 1, it ups our stock a little bit," said Mike Tomlinson, who trains Kettleoneup.

Kettleoneup will make her stakes debut Saturday at Oaklawn in the $50,000 Pippin, a 1 1/16-mile race that also drew D Fine Okie, who is seeking her fifth straight win, and Plaid, a multiple stakes winner. Kettleoneup has started once since finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind Sugar Shake, winning an allowance at Oaklawn by eight lengths on Jan. 28.

In that one-mile race, Kettleoneup trailed into the first turn, advanced along the rail down the backside, and split horses on the final turn. She separated herself from the rest of the field in the stretch of the race, which ended at the sixteenth pole, as do all races at a mile at Oaklawn.

"It was pretty impressive with the short stretch, the amount of distance she put on the [field]," said Tomlinson.

Kettleoneup won her maiden by 11 lengths in a one-mile race at Mountaineer in September. A month later, she won a conditioned allowance by 12 1/2 lengths, also at a mile at Mountaineer.

"She's not run a mile and a sixteenth yet, but she's been widening at a mile and so I don't think the distance is a factor," said Tomlinson, who has given the mount to Terry Thompson.

Plaid is one of the region's most consistent mares. She has won 6 of her last 10 starts, including stakes victories in the $75,000 Matron at Evangeline Downs and the $83,000 Chaves County at Zia Park.

"She runs great all the time," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Plaid and has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.

D Fine Okie closed out her stellar 2006 with four straight wins, two of them in stakes at Remington. Overall last year, she won 7 of 14 starts and placed in five other races.

"She didn't miss too many checks last year," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains D Fine Okie. "She's an amazing mare."

Von Hemel has given the mount to Don Pettinger.