11/05/2016 7:33PM

Surface switch helps Kiss to Remember upset Chilukki Stakes

Coady Photography
Kiss to Remember pays $30.40 for her win under Joe Rocco Jr. in the Chilukki Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. –  Roughly 20 minutes after Finest City scored an upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita after turning back from a pair of two-turn grass routes, Kiss to Remember repeated the same maneuver with success at Churchill Downs in the $200,000, Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes.

A Florida invader, Kiss to Remember relished a return to dirt in the Chilukki, and recorded the biggest victory of her career by gamely outlasting heavily favored Birdatthewire, who had appeared poised to run her down in midstretch.

Winning jockey Joe Rocco Jr. credited trainer Marty Wolfson for the pre-race instructions he gave him by phone earlier on Saturday, in which Wolfson  told him to settle her off the pace and to go to the lead entering the stretch.

That was how the race played out, with Kiss to Remember sitting just off pacesetting Mayla, as that one set splits of 23.27 seconds, 47.58, and 1:10.84 in the one-turn mile race, before she pounced with a quarter of a mile remaining.

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“When she can the take the lead about turning for home she’s usually very tough to beat,” Rocco said. “I was very worried when [Birdatthewire] came outside her, but I tried to keep riding strong and she kept running strong and thank God she got to the wire first.”

Birdatthewire, the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, finished well clear of the rest of the field, three lengths in front of her next-closest pursuer, third-place Sweetgrass.  Birdatthewire was a bit slow to switch leads, not doing so to midstretch, and though she surged late, it was not quite enough, falling a head short.

Kiss to Remember ($30.40), a 5-year-old daughter of Big Brown owned by Miller Racing, had won  just one race in nine starts in 2016 prior to the Chilukki, scoring the victory in an allowance at Gulfstream Park on July 31. She covered a mile under the lights on a fast track in 1:35.80.