02/10/2005 12:00AM

Sunland: Dixie Kiss one to beat

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Apparently they made Dixie Kiss mad. After a nice maiden win at Sunland Park, she returned on Dec. 26 against allowance foes but had trouble at the start and finished second. She came back Jan. 28 in a similar spot, didn't miss the break, and romped by 10 1/4 lengths. Now back on track, Dixie Kiss is the likely favorite and horse to beat in Saturday's $53,200 El Paso Times Handicap at Sunland. The 6 1/2-furlong race attracted nine 3-year-old fillies.

Dixie Kiss, the co-highweight here at 119 pounds, is trained by Lucero Lorence. She defeated a couple of her Saturday foes in her last start.

Two others are also weighted at 119 pounds. Air Julie, trained by Carl Dyer, invades from California. She hasn't run since October but when she last ran she defeated males in a stakes race at Fresno in California.

Time to Divorce, trained by Carlos Sedillo, has been stakes placed three times. She hasn't run since Dec. 26, when she finished ahead of Dixie Kiss in an allowance race.

Lady Siphonica invades from Southern California for one of that area's top trainers, Doug O'Neill. She comes off a poor run in a tough optional claimer, but she showed some ability in stakes races on both coasts last summer and looms a huge threat shipping in here.

Merger Talk won her maiden at Ruidoso in June but in three subsequent starts last summer showed little. Trained by Todd Fincher, she was off for a couple months and resurfaced here on Dec. 7 in an allowance race. At 21-1, she sat back early, then circled the field and won by 10 lengths. Among her victims that day was Time to Divorce, who in her next start beat Dixie Kiss on Dec. 26.