07/28/2003 11:00PM

'Kisses' has right connections

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Dave Cotey looks to stage another successful invasion of Winnipeg, with Pants N Kisses slated to be flown out early Friday morning for Monday's Grade 3, $100,000 Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs.

The Manitoba Derby has been kind to Cotey in two previous ventures, as he won the 1999 renewal as the co-owner of Wafare Warrior and the 2001 edition as both trainer and co-owner of Stage Classic.

Cotey's regular partners, Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith, also will be seeking their third win in the race.

Pants N Kisses, a Kentucky-bred, sold for just $1,000 as a yearling and was purchased privately by Cotey for $3,200.

After finishing second when running for a $62,500 claiming price in his lone start at 2, Pants N Kisses won his maiden for $32,000 in his 2003 bow and displayed steady improvement which led him to an upset victory in the Victoria Park Stakes here June 8.

Cotey has been looking toward the 1 1/8-mile Manitoba Derby for Pants N Kisses since the Victoria Park, run over that same distance.

In a subsequent appearance, Pants N Kisses tried turf for the first time and finished fifth, beaten 7 3/4 lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup on July 12.

"He tried," Cotey said, "but he was running against some very nice horses, and he's not as good on grass as he is on dirt."

Pants N Kisses had his major Manitoba Derby tune-up here Monday, drilling five furlongs in 1:01.80 under regular rider Constant Montpellier, who also will be making the trip to Winnipeg. He won the Manitoba Derby aboard Stage Classic.

"It's the best he's ever worked," Cotey said. "He did it very, very easily and galloped out strong.

"I'm really happy; he couldn't be coming up to the race better. He'll just have to go and do it now."

Cotey believes Pants N Kisses will be as comfortable on the 6 1/2-furlong Assiniboia oval as his former starters.

"He rates nice, and has a burst of speed," he said. "You can put him anywhere you want."

Cotey might ship juveniles

Pants N Kisses will have company on his flight as Cotey also will send one of the three 2-year-olds he has nominated for Monday's Winnipeg Futurity, a $40,000-guaranteed race at six furlongs.

Truth Serum, Beyond the Horizon, and Setting the Scene are Cotey's runners. As of Tuesday morning, Truth Serum was considered the likeliest to make the trip.

A Florida-bred, Truth Serum would be making his first start since May 11, when he debuted with a closing second-place finish to Stormthebarricade in a 4 1/2-furlong sprint.

Stormthebarricade has since become a stakes winner, romping in the six-furlong Bull Page here last Sunday, and Truth Serum would figure to take some beating in Manitoba.

"It's so tough here," Cotey said, "and he's sitting on a win."

Cotey explained that shipping a second horse to Winnipeg is an economic advantage since the cost of reserving a pallet, which is about $13,000, remains the same.

Sandra Dominguez, a trainer based in the same barn as Cotey, will accompany Pants N Kisses and his accomplice on the trip to her hometown.

Lady Shari retired

Lady Shari, last year's Sovereign Award-winning 3-year-old filly for Cotey and his partners, has been retired and is for sale as a broodmare prospect.

"She's sound as a bell of brass," Cotey said, "but she's been bleeding, and I can't stop her. The vet said to give her six months off, and she might get over it, but she's been too good to us."

Lady Shari, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Judge T C out of the Badger Land filly Badgering Shari, won the Grade 1 Mazarine Breeders' Cup here at 1 1/16 miles.

Last year, the filly won a pair of Grade 3 stakes, capturing the Maple Leaf at 1 1/4 miles and defeating males in the Canadian Derby at 1 3/8 miles at Northlands Park.

Wando to work a mile Friday

Wando, who will try to complete his sweep of the Canadian Triple Crown here in the Aug. 9 Breeders' Stakes, is scheduled to work a mile under regular rider Patrick Husbands in a special E.P. Taylor turf course training session Friday.

After dominating both the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate here June 22 and the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales at Fort Erie July 20, Wando will be stretching out to 1 1/2 miles and moving to turf for the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes.

A victory by Wando, who is trained by Mike Keogh, would be worth $550,000 in bonus money to the colt's owner and breeder, Gustav Schickedanz, with $50,000 of that total in the form of a breeder's award.

Mobil to West Virginia Derby

Mobil, the other top 3-year-old shooter in the Keogh-Schickedanz arsenal, is scheduled to make his next start in the Grade 3, $600,000 West Virginia Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race at Mountaineer Park Aug. 9.

Runner-up in the Queen's Plate before leaving the pursuit of the Triple Crown to his stablemate, Mobil subsequently won the Toronto Cup, a Grade 3 race.

Mobil's regular rider, Todd Kabel, will be not be making the trip and arrangements for a new rider have not been finalized.