02/28/2002 12:00AM

Kiss a Native makes the trip


NEW ORLEANS - It's going on three years since owner John Franks and trainer Bill White sent a first-time starter named Kiss a Native out in a $32,000 maiden-claiming race.

He fit fairly well in that spot.

Kiss a Native won his career debut by 20 lengths and sent Franks and White on a whirlwind ride through the fall of 1999, winning an allowance race by 11 lengths and a $400,000 division of the Florida Stallion Stakes by five lengths. White was based at Calder Race Course, and the Breeders' Cup was being held that year across Miami at Gulfstream Park.

The allure of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was too strong for Franks and White to resist.

"Those races were two weeks, two weeks, two weeks," White said earlier this week. "All that racing finally caught up to him in the Breeders' Cup."

Kiss a Native finished last in the Juvenile and when he raced again the following spring, he ran for the Woodbine-based trainer David Bell. White understood the situation.

"It's tough to have Calder as your base all year, like I do, if you have a quality horse," White said. "It's always tough to ship out of south Florida."

But Kiss a Native, now a 5-year-old and back in White's care, left town this week to try and cement his position as a major player in the national handicap division. He shipped by van from Florida to New Orleans and will be among the favorites Sunday in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap. Franks, who bred Kiss a Native and stands his sire, Kissin Kris, is shooting for his fourth New Orleans Handicap win.

Kiss a Native had a good 3-year-old season that he capped off with an easy win in the Grade 2 Pegasus Handicap, but did not race again for 10 months, finally returning last August. His 2001 campaign was spare, but it paved the way for a strong third-place finish last month in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. Kiss a Native was placed second in the race after Red Bullet was disqualified.

Kiss a Native has a good chance Sunday if he reproduces his effort in the Donn. Kiss a Native drew post 13 in the Donn and White did not want to risk getting him hung wide around the first turn.

"Normally he's a stalker, but because of his post position we just took back," White said.

Kiss a Native made a powerful move early on the far turn and flew past most of the field, falling a length short of the win.

"He's been training excellent and he's never been better," White said. "He seems to have come to hand at just the right time."

Lord Jim makes nine

The prospective field for the New Orleans Handicap swelled to nine with news that Lord Jim was likely to ship in from California for the race. He'll be the lone West Coast-based entrant in the New Orleans Handicap, which is not surprising considering 14 horses were entered for Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap.

Lord Jim, an Argentine import owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Carla Gaines, raced on turf in three of his four starts in this country. He tried dirt in his last start and was beaten in a restricted stakes race.

Besides Kiss a Native and Lord Jim, expected to run are Graeme Hall, Valhol, Parade Leader, San Pedro, Fight for Ally, Keats, and Oak Hall.

Cashier's Dream works

The 3-year-old filly Cashier's Dream had her first breeze of the year Monday at Fair Grounds, working an easy three furlongs in 38 seconds.

Cashier's Dream has not raced since finishing second to You in the Grade 1 Frizette. In her previous race, she won the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. Cashier's Dream is a diminutive Michigan-bred filly who made her career debut in a $50,000 maiden-claiming race last summer at Churchill.

"She's filled out nicely," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "She's put some weight on. There's a lot of miles between here and a race."

Asmusssen said he'd assess Cashier's Dream's fitness at the end of this meet before pointing her to a race. Keeneland's Stonerside Beaumont Stakes, a Grade 2 at seven furlongs on April 26, is a possible early-season goal.