Three Diamonds Farm’s Kiss the Girl gave it her all in the $100,000 Nellie Morse Stakes, for fillies and mares, 4 & up, to beat out Artful Splatter down the stretch at Laurel Park on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Coming in off a dominant win in the Geisha Stakes against state-breds the month before, Kiss the Girl was sent out of the second post in a field of five and settled near the back of the pack, just ahead of favorite Miss Leslie, while Smooth With a Kick raced ahead of Artful Splatter through an opening quarter-mile in :23.66. Kiss the Girl moved up the inside of Golden Plume, with Miss Leslie doing the same from the outside, as they made their way around the far turn after a :47.16 half-mile. Steadied and checked off heels on the turn for home, Kiss the Girl found her way between Smooth With a Kick and Artful Splatter and raced down the stretch to outlast runner-up Artful Splatter, finishing the mile and a sixteenth in 1:45.60. Miss Leslie was four lengths behind Artful Splatter in third.
“She keeps surprising me,” trainer Mike Trombetta said. “She runs hard every time and today she had some adversity turning for home and [jockey] Victor [Carrasco] did a great job. He just had to regroup and get a little patient and find another avenue to get home. But she came through and he did a good job of helping her.”
It was her second win from three stakes starts this season, which kicked off with a third in the Ladies at Aqueduct Jan. 16 behind Battle Bling and Miss Leslie, followed by a four and a half lengths win in the one-mile Geisha Jan. 29.
Now a four-time stakes winner, Kiss the Girl holds a record of eight wins, four seconds and three thirds from 23 career starts, with $456,686 in earnings.
“She’s been great and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite horses,” Trombetta said.
Starting as a 2-year-old under trainer Todd Pletcher, the daughter of Into Mischief broke her maiden first out at Belmont Park in June 2019, winning by four and a half lengths, then headed to Saratoga to make her stakes debut in the Schuylerville Stakes-G3. Kiss the Girl threatened Comical down the stretch before begrudgingly finishing second, by a neck. Those were her only juvenile outings.
Switched to trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn for the start of her 3-year-old season before being transferred to Trombetta in the fall, Kiss the Girl managed to pick up two allowance wins, going six furlongs at Oaklawn Park (February) and later seven furlongs at Laurel Park (November). In her two stakes starts, she finished seventh in the Purple Martin and eighth in the Christiana, her first start on the turf and second stretching out to one and one-sixteenth miles.
Based with Trombetta ever since, she kicked of 2021 with two starts in stakes company, finishing second in the Geisha in January before powering away in the Conniver Stakes in March, winning by three-quarters of a length over Lookin Dynamic in a final time of 1:23.21 for seven furlongs. After a sixth-place finish in an allowance at Pimlico in May, Kiss the Girl returned to the turf in the Peach Blossom Stakes at Delaware July 7, where she finished fourth, before notching a second in a one-mile turf allowance at Pimlico later that month.
In August, she secured her first turf victory in the All Brandy Stakes at Pimlico as she reeled in apparent winner Awesome Jazz in deep stretch to score by a neck. Racing at Laurel, Kiss the Girl made two more allowance starts on the turf, finishing second and fifth, respectively, before notching a four and three-quarters-length victory in a mile and an eighth allowance originally scheduled for the turf in early November.
Bred by Classic Thoroughbred XII, she was consigned to the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall yearling sale and purchased for $210,000 by Three Diamonds. Kiss the Girl is the first foal produced by her dam Spin the Bottle, an unraced daughter of Hard Spun who also has a Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly by Malibu Moon, Spin the Moon, who sold for $95,000 as a yearling at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall sale, and a Kentucky-bred yearling filly by Classic Empire. The mare was sold to the cover of Improbable at last November’s Keeneland Breeding Stock sale for $70,000..