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Delightful Kiss - preps on turf for big run on dirt
by Handicappers / Globeform
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He may be grey and so is his trainer, but the gelding Delightful Kiss represents what must be one of the most colourful and charismatic teams coming to Nad Al Sheba for a crack at big money on World Cup night.

He gets his prep run in the Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park on February 28.

The story of this horse’s trainer is a fascinating one, as Delightful Kiss is handled by 77-year-old Pete Anderson, an ex-jockey with an unusual background. He used to be one of boxer Rocky Marciano’s closest friends and drinking mates and has plenty of stories to tell.

“Me and Rocky used to make a bit of noise”, he says, “but I am on my last legs, you know, and I am enjoying it”. He now trains just one horse, and Delighful Kiss forms a strong ‘team’ for the old man. “We are aiming for the Godolphin Mile, but if they decide to invite us to the World Cup, we will be ready for that!” he vows.

Delightful Kiss is not quite up to World Cup standard. On bare form he fits in much better in the Godolphin Mile, but the distance of that race can be a bit on the short side for him. While the 2000 metres of the World Cup would suit him ideally. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Choctaw Nation, who stayed on from the back to be third in the World Cup four years ago, when it was won by Roses in May. This is also how Delightful Kiss likes to race. Always stone last early on, and normally detached from the field, he has a strong late kick. He produced one of the best performances seen at the Gulfstream Park this winter when coming with an incredible run from last to win the one-mile Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3). A subsequent third in the 9-furlong Sunshine Millions Classic was somewhat disappointing but his rider Calvin Borel did not have the best of days. He sat too far back in a slowly run race, and when Delightful Kiss unleashed his run he was facing an impossible task. The five-year-old gelding passed the post more than five lengths behind the winner It’s a Bird, who had been racing in the first two throughout.

That was Delightful Kiss’s 24th career start. He has gained seven wins and earned just over a million dollars. Two of his wins came at a good time last year, when the son of Kissing Kris took back-to-back Grade 3 wins in the Turfway Park Fall Championship over 12 furlongs and the All American Stakes over 9 furlongs in September. Delightful Kiss, bred by his owners at Hobeau Farm in Florida, has also won on turf and he is a pretty versatile guy. Tough as nails, he would be one of the favourites for the Godolphin Mile (G2) but probably a bit of a longshot if he turns up for the World Cup.

But first, he is set for the Canadian Turf, a strong mile race at Gulfstream Park, where a lack of early pace may work against him. Anderson runs Delightful Kiss on turf since he feels that the horse performs best on the dirt after a prep over the lawn. Call it unusual, but Pete has been around the block a few times. He probably knows what he’s doing.

Published: 2009-02-27 11:46:25

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