08/26/2005 12:00AM

Proof that beauty isn't skin deep

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"She was an ugly duckling, but we saw something special," said Charles McGinnes about a filly he and his wife bred named Foolish Kisses.

Charles and Cynthia McGinnes, named Maryland's breeders of the year last year, have spent many years evaluating horses. When they offered their friend Dr. Philip Torsney, an allergist and longtime breeder from Red Bank, N.J., the opportunity to purchase Foolish Kisses as a yearling in 1992, he gladly accepted.

"It was a very reasonable price," noted Torsney.

"We thought a friend should benefit," McGinnes said. "We thought she could be a real racehorse."

What a mare Foolish Kisses has turned out to be.

On Aug. 21, Foolish Kisses's 3-year-old filly I'mtoogoodtobetrue set every fraction en route to 1 1/4-length victory in the Girl Powder Handicap at Monmouth Park. A half-hour later, the mare's 4-year-old son Gotaghostofachance nearly capped a perfect afternoon when he took the lead in midstretch of the

Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar. He was caught by a fast-closing Imperialism to finish second, beaten less than a length.

Torsney still owns I'mtoogoodtobetrue, a daughter of Good and Tough who has won 4 of 8 starts and has never finished worse than second. The Girl Powder victory boosted I'mtoogoodtobetrue's earnings to $180,901. "She ran a courageous race," McGinnes said.

Winner of last fall's New Jersey Futurity for fillies, I'mtoogoodtobetrue was New Jersey's champion 2-year-old filly of 2004.

The decision to foal in New Jersey was a one-year venture. "Dr. Torsney and I discussed the option," said McGinnes. "It was to take advantage of the New Jersey program and have a home-track runner."

Torsney lives about eight minutes from Monmouth Park.

The other eight foals delivered by Foolish Kisses were foaled in Maryland. The mare resides full-time at the McGinnes's Thornmar Farm in Chestertown, Md.

Gotaghostofachance, a gelding by Silver Ghost, won the Lamplighter Stakes, was second in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes, and third in the Rumson Stakes last summer before being sold privately by Torsney. In his only start in 2004 for his new connections, Ross McLeod and Charles Ming, Gotaghostofachance was off the board in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby, in which he was the favorite. The Pat O'Brien was his first start in 11 months. Gotaghostofachance has earned $160,950 from nine starts.

All four of Foolish Kisses's foals to start have earned more than $100,000. Her first, a Twining filly named Folly May Pay, won 19 races in Puerto Rico, including the Clasico Entrenadores, and earned $160,678. She is the only Foolish Kisses foal sold at public auction by Torsney, bringing $45,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic September yearling sale in 1997. Juskeeprollinalong, Foolish Kisses's 1999 son by Citidancer, has earnings of $122,038.

"Foolish Kisses has been a wonderful mare," said Torsney. In addition to her growing status as a producer, Foolish Kisses was a rising star on the track during her abbreviated 3-year-old campaign. "She had unlimited potential," Torsney said.

A winner of her first three starts - all within a month, including the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico - Foolish Kisses was kicked next out during the running of the Miss Woodford Breeders' Cup Handicap at Monmouth. The injury ended her career.

Foolish Kisses proves a good horse can come from modest means. The McGinneses had bought a season to Cannonade late in the stallion's career through a Matchmaker stallion auction, paying $500 for the privilege of sending their useful mare Ceylon Burgoo (a daughter of Singh) to the aging Kentucky Derby winner. Foolish Kisses was the type of filly the McGinneses knew wouldn't bring much at public auction - she isn't very correct in front and not particularly attractive. But to the McGinneses, her strengths far outweighed the negatives. "She was very well balanced and athletic - she was always a beautiful mover," said McGinnes.

Torsney and the McGinneses discuss all potential stallion prospects to breed to the mare, but have now seen a pattern - all of Foolish Kisses's stakes runners are by Mr. Prospector-line sires. The mare's 2-year-old filly, Bushel and a Peck, is by Numerous (a son of Mr. Prospector) and has yet to start. Sticking with the pattern, Foolish Kisses was bred this season to leading Maryland sire Not for Love (also by Mr. Prospector). The mare has a yearling by Officer and weanling by Partner's Hero - two stallions fancied by the breeders. All are still owned by Torsney.