01/16/2004 12:00AM

Kissin Saint is comin' back


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Things really didn't pan out for Kissin Saint after he finished third behind Empire Maker and Funny Cide in last year's Wood Memorial, but perhaps a new year signals new beginnings for Kissin Saint, who makes his 4-year-old debut at Aqueduct on Sunday.

Kissin Saint, who has been away from the races for 128 days, returns in a third-level allowance for older males. Seven were entered in the 1 1/8-mile race, which is the feature.

Lisa Lewis, Kissin Saint's trainer, is looking forward to getting him back to the races.

"I think he will be a better 4-year-old," Lewis said. "He finally grew into himself and filled out. His disposition is more serious and focused. I think he could have a really good year."

Kissin Saint, who was bred by the late John Franks, ran two big races around two turns on the inner track last year. In January, he won a maiden claiming race by 14 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95. Peter Karches and Michael Rankowitz claimed Kissin Saint that day for $50,000.

Kissin Saint won his first two starts for his new connections, a first-level allowance at a mile on the inner track and a 1 1/8-mile classified allowance on the main track.

The future looked bright for Kissin Saint after he finished third in the Wood Memorial, but he lost his next three starts. After finishing last in the Preakness, Kissin Saint was fifth in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga and fourth in an allowance race at Belmont Park on Sept. 12, his last start.

"He gets these sinus infections, and we have worked on that," Lewis said. "He has been training well and should run well. A mile and an eighth is a lot to ask of him, and it's hard to have him dead tight off a layoff in this weather. But I think he has the talent to win first time back and is fit enough to be right there.

"No matter how much training I did with him, he'll be running against horses that have raced more recently, and that is a disadvantage."

Mike Luzzi rides Kissin Saint, who drew post 4 and won't wear the blinkers he had on in his last two starts.

Kissin Saint's chief rivals are Big Sid's Party and Rogue Agent.

In his last start, Big Sid's Party finished second as the favorite to Boston Park, who was entered in Saturday's Aqueduct Handicap.

Rogue Agent won back-to-back starts over muddy tracks in November. In his last start, Rogue Agent finished a well-beaten second as the favorite in the restricted Alex M. Robb Stakes.

Nothing Flat, Cryptic Devil, Dial a Hero, and Phish complete the field.

War's Prospect in race shape, trainer says

Trainer William Anderson said War's Prospect will be a fitter horse for Monday's $75,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes than he was when he finished third in last month's Maria's Mon Stakes.

War's Prospect is among seven 3-year-olds expected to run in the six-furlong Capossela. The main contenders are Scary Bob, the Maria's Mon winner, and a strong-looking Michael Gill entry of Ottawa Chief and Kiowa Prince. Quick Action, M Town, and Tale of Woe are also expected.

War's Prospect pressed the pace and was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Scary Bob in the Maria's Mon on Dec. 26. It was War's Prospect's first race since Nov. 7, when he won the New Jersey Futurity at The Meadowlands by 4 1/4 lengths. Eight days earlier, War's Prospect had won a New Jersey-bred maiden race by 5 1/4 lengths.

"He had run three races in a three-week span, so I gave him a freshening after he won the stakes at The Meadowlands," Anderson said. "Besides the speed duel [in the Maria's Mon], I think he came up a little short. He is quite fit now."

Road looks clear for Way to the Top

Way to the Top met a couple of monsters in his last two starts, but he might be the one to fear in next Saturday's $75,000 Paumonok.

In November at Laurel Park, Way to the Top encountered traffic trouble in the stretch of the Grade 1 De Francis Dash and finished fourth behind some very good sprinters - A Huevo, Shake You Down, and Gators N Bears. In his last start, Way to the Top finished second to Shake You Down, a sensational horse at six furlongs, in the Grade 3 Gravesend on Dec. 21.

If he had it to do over again, trainer Bruce Levine said his instructions to jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. in the Gravesend would have been different.

"I told Arroyo to take back, because on paper Gators N Bears looked like the second-fastest horse to Shake You Down," Levine said. "Arroyo said we could have made the lead easily, but he took him back. Then Gators N Bears was off the pace and we conceded the race to Shake You Down."

The early probables for the Paumonok are Crafty Song, Don Six, Papua, Sing Me Back Home, Spooky Mulder, Sunray Spirit, and Way to the Top.