05/16/2012 12:01PM

Pimlico: Agave Kiss taking next step in Miss Preakness Stakes

Barbara D. Livingtson
Agave Kiss, with trainer Rudy Rodriguez, is an even-money morning-line favorite for the Miss Preakness Stakes.

BALTIMORE – Rudy Rodriguez has been very methodical in the way he has campaigned Agave Kiss to this point. He began her career in races for New York-breds, stayed on the inner dirt at Aqueduct during the winter, and ventured outside of New York for the first time last month, when Agave Kiss won a stakes race at Parx Racing.

She is a perfect 5 for 5, all at six furlongs. One more intermediate step, and then it will be time to aim really high.

That step comes Friday, when Agave Kiss looks for her sixth victory in the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes here at Pimlico. The six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies drew nine runners, but no more than eight are expected to run. Gypsy Robin is expected to be scratched after running in, and winning, the Inaugural Stakes at Presque Isle on Tuesday night.

Agave Kiss is definitely the one to catch. She has grabbed the lead by the quarter-mile mark in all five of her starts and has never looked back. She has been favored in her last four starts and is the even-money choice in the line of Pimlico’s Frank Carulli.

“She’s coming along very well,” Rodriguez, who trains Agave Kiss for the Flying Zee Stable of Viane Lizza, said Wednesday morning at Pimlico. “I’ve just got to hope she runs like we expect. We’ve taken our time. She’s a nice filly. But the race came up tough. We’ll try this and see where we’re at.”

Rodriguez said his major goal for Agave Kiss is the Grade 1 Test Stakes this summer at Saratoga.

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“Hopefully, she takes us there,” Rodriguez said. “She hasn’t let us down yet. Hopefully, she’s still improving.”

Agave Kiss will be ridden for the first time by Ramon Dominguez, who picked up the mount because Ryan Curatolo, who has ridden her in all her prior starts, is ironing out visa issues in his native France.

Millionreasonswhy is absolutely the biggest threat to Agave Kiss remaining unbeaten. The winner of the Adirondack Stakes last summer at Saratoga, she has won once in two starts this year. She most recently was third in the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct.

Other stakes winners in the Miss Preakness are Defy Gravity, Say a Novena, and Singlet.

– additional reporting by David Grening