02/28/2008 12:00AM

Kiss the Kid seeks to build on last effort


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Four weeks ago, Kiss the Kid went postward as the longest price on the board at 46-1 in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. On Saturday, Kiss the Kid figures to vie for favoritism with Fairbanks when the pair head a field of only five horses in the Grade 2, $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Kiss the Kid pressed and then outdueled the odds-on favorite Daaher for the early lead before succumbing grudgingly through the stretch to finish third behind Spring at Last in the Donn. That performance surely will earn him plenty of additional respect from bettors when he returns for the 1 3/16-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap.

"I'm still basking in the glow of his race in the Donn," said Amy Tarrant who owns and trains Kiss the Kid. "He's feeling like a monster and seems to be at the top of his game now. My horse obviously has a lot of speed, but he's easy to rate. Fairbanks has speed too, so perhaps we'll let him go a little ahead of us. I guess I'll just leave it up to my jockey, let him see what happens when they break and then decide what to do."

Eddie Castro, who has been aboard Kiss the Kid in each of his last two starts, has the assignment once again Saturday.

Fairbanks finished fifth, 2 1/2 lengths behind Kiss the Kid, after taking off the pace and checking briefly turning for home in the Donn. It was his first outing since finishing fifth after forcing the issue into the stretch of the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs 10 weeks earlier.

"It will be interesting to see what the pace scenario looks like and what Kiss the Kid's intentions are," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Fairbanks for Team Valor Stables. "Obviously, we knew we wouldn't be on the lead in the Donn, but we might make a more conscientious effort to be on the pace Saturday. I thought he ran a decent race off the layoff considering the setup in the Donn, and, on paper, this certainly looks like an easier spot."

Although both are Grade 1 stakes placed, Kiss the Kid and Fairbanks will receive a two-pound concession from Sir Whimsey, who will carry high weight of 117 pounds in his return to graded stakes competition.

"I'm upset about the weights," said James Toner, the trainer of Sir Whimsey. "I'm mystified how he can be giving weight to everybody else yet will probably be 15-1 on the tote board. The horse is doing well, but it's a big jump from winning a second-level allowance race to Grade 2 company."

Sir Whimsey rallied to a two-length allowance win while facing older horses for only the second time on Jan. 16. The son of Jump Start was off the board in his only two previous appearances against graded competition at 3.

Canadian invader Leonnatus Anteas, winner of Woodbine's Cup and Saucer Stakes at 2, and Wood Be Willing, runner-up behind Commentator's record-setting performance here earlier in the meet, complete the lineup.