07/13/2004 12:00AM

Lasting Kiss steps up in class


AUBURN, Wash. - Lasting Kiss, who has been consistent but unlucky since arriving in trainer Steve Fisher's barn last December, will head a field of five $16,000 fillies and mares in Thursday's 6 1/2-furlong claiming feature at Emerald Downs.

A 4-year-old daughter of Numerous, Lasting Kiss has not finished worse than third in nine starts for Fisher and Fisher's training partner, Jacqui Navarre. She has crossed the wire first in five of those starts, but she was denied the full winner's prize in her last two outings. Lasting Kiss was disqualified from first and placed second when racing under $12,500 conditions May 23, then dead-heated for the win in a similar contest last time out June 10.

"I would rather she lost the photo than dead-heated," Fisher said. "As it is, she lost her condition for less than the winner's prize, and now I have to bump her up in class."

Lasting Kiss will meet three rivals who have had success on or near the $16,000 level, plus class dropper Joeronohmoe.

Joeronohmoe won three races last year, defeating maiden special weight and allowance rivals at Mountaineer Park and beating $32,000 company here. She made her 2004 debut here in a $25,000 claiming event May 9, but tired badly after dueling through a half-mile in 45 seconds to finish last of 10. Trained by Mike Jones, Joeronohmoe has come back to register a pair of solid five-furlong drills and may be primed to wake up with the drop in class, a switch in riders from John Holmes Sr. to Nate Chaves, and the removal of her customary blinkers.