07/17/2004 12:00AM

Kicken Kris a winner again


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Michael Matz never doubted Kicken Kris's ability, but he was puzzled by the colt's latest loss in the Grade 1 Manhattan last month. On Saturday at Belmont Park in the $150,000 , Kicken Kris was back in the winner's circle for the first time since October with a 1 1/2-length victory over Better Talk Now.

Kicken Kris, the 6-5 favorite with Edgar Prado in the saddle, made a bold move around the far turn and ran down the pacesetter, L'Oiseau d'Argent, in midstretch of the Grade 2 Bowling Green before a crowd of 7,316.

Gigli finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Better Talk Now, in the 1 3/8-mile turf race. B. A. Way, L'Oiseau d'Argent, A to the Z, In Hand, Vanity Affair, Host, and Thompson Rouge completed the order of finish.

Kicken Kris ($4.70) covered the distance in 2:12.19 over a course labeled firm. He carried 117 pounds as the highweight.

L'Oiseau d'Argent, who broke from the rail, set the pace through fractions of 23.36 seconds, 47.52, 1:10.85, and 1:35.95. At the top of the stretch, L'Oiseau d'Argent was weakening and Kicken Kris was rolling.

Prado rode Kicken Kris for the first time in the Bowling Green.

"He gave me a nice, sweeping move outside and just drew off," said Prado, who won three races on Saturday's card. "He is a little better than this bunch, and he proved it today. I noticed in the post parade that he wasn't fully concentrating. Even in the gate, he wasn't focusing. That's why I let him go a little early."

Matz didn't indicate his plans for Kicken Kris's next start. A 4-year-old son of Kris S., Kicken Kris is owned by Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable.

Kicken Kris's victory in the Bowling Green, his third in a stakes, boosted his earnings to $719,100. He has a record of 5-3-3 in 17 starts.