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The Goodbye Kisser ready for Winter Derby

February 18, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

The Goodbye Kisser shown setting the fastest qualifying time from four trials to the 2011 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, covering 400 yards in :19.413.
(photo by Scott Martinez, courtesy of Los Alamitos Race Course)
By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

When Quarter Horse agent Vince Genco first saw The Goodbye Kisser as a yearling at the Heritage Place Quarter Horse Sale in Oklahoma he advised Brazilian racehorse owner Marcelo Jorge not to buy the bay filly.

“She stood a little crooked,” Genco said. “Marcelo didn’t listen to me. He figured that she would at least make a good broodmare. He ended up buying her for $32,000 and now I’m glad he did.”

More than 18 months later and The Goodbye Kisser has become an earner of more than $200,000 and one of the fastest horses stabled at Los Alamitos Race Course this year. Her value as a broodmare is easily more than 10 times what Jorge paid for her at the horse auction and that could rise even further as she’s the favorite to win $215,600 Los Alamitos Winter Derby at 400 yards on Friday night, February 18.

Trained by Paul Jones, The Goodbye Kisser will go after her sixth straight victory at Los Alamitos and her third stakes win during that span at the Orange County track in the Winter Derby. She comes into this race after posting a scintillating trial win when posting the fastest qualifying time of :19.41 at 400 yards on January 28. Leaving the gate from post number four, The Goodbye Kisser opened up a length advantage over the field after only a few seconds into the race and she never let up from there. Bred by Bob Moore Farms, the filly ended up ¾ lengths ahead of Loose Perry in the trials and that’s with jockey Ramon Sanchez taking it easy during the final 100 yards of the race.

In her Los Alamitos career, The Goodbye Kisser has lost just once in seven starts and that was a third place finish after coming off a 110 day layoff against Winter Derby finalist Filthy Fast. In her wins, no one has ever been close to The Goodbye Kisser. In fact, her closest wins were half length victories in the Grade 1 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge.

“I think she has a great chance to win,” said Genco, who is now a believer of The Goodbye Kisser’s racing prowess. “I am going to Brazil on Monday so hopefully we’ll have a good weekend.”

While all The Goodbye Kisser does at Los Alamitos is win races, Ronald Skeen and Fawna Knight’s Oatman is just starting to learn how to win. The good looking gelding by Walk Thru Fire went winless in his first five career starts, but he broke his maiden in impressive fashion in the trials to the Winter Derby. Oatman won his trial by 1½ lengths and if he runs on that level once again, he’ll give The Goodbye Kisser all she can handle.

Kolleen Ledgerwood’s Filthy Fast is the only California-based runner to have won a race that included The Goodbye Kisser in the field. That should not come as a surprise, as the Splash Bac gelding has all the credentials to be a top star. He is out of multiple Grade 1 winning millionaire Corona Kool and he was seen as one of the horse to beat in the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity won by The Goodbye Kisser. Filthy Fast had a tough start in that race, but still managed to run a creditable fourth.
Current Sea, a half brother to champion Strawkins, could be the late running x-factor in this race, but the gelding a quick start in order to stay close to the speedy The Goodbye Kisser. Loose Perry, who dominated racing in Mexico City last year, is another top challenger in this race, as is the surprising Winter Derby trial winner Book Cooker. Kindergarten Futurity winner West Coast Hawk, Diligents, Runaway Corky and Walkin Bac will complete the field.

Trials report

Impressive during her freshman campaign, Marcelo Jorge’s The Goodbye Kisser (left) looked even better in her sophomore debut on January 28, as the daughter of First Down Dash won a trial to the $215,600 Los Alamitos Winter Derby by ¾ lengths while posting the fastest 400-yard qualifying time of :19.413. Thirty three horses competed in four trials and the runners with the 10 fastest times moved on to the February 18 final at Los Alamitos. The finalists will be running for the richest Winter Derby purse since 2005 and the third richest in the 11-year history of the race.

The Goodbye Kisser looks like the one to beat in the derby final, as the Paul Jones-trainee flew out of the gate from post one and never looked back en route to her sixth win in eight career starts. The Bob Moore Farms-bred filly has won six of seven outs at the Orange County oval. Most recently she ran second to Cold Cash in the $200,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship at Zia Park.

“She was good again,” Jones said. “She’s always good. In her start at Zia Park, she led all the way but Cold Cash nabbed her at the end. It was her first start at 440 yards – she had never run that far – and I think that was the difference. Cold Cash is a 440 horse. He won the All American Consolation and he did it in a faster time than the one posted by the All American Futurity winner. The Goodbye Kisser has been good for a long time and that second place finish showed that she can be tough at any distance. She ran a great race tonight.”

Ramon Sanchez piloted The Goodbye Kisser, who last year won the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge and the PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. She made $3,300 in this trial win to take her career earnings to $246,458 for her Brazilian owner.

"I talked with Marcelo and he watched the races on his computer," said Vince Genco, who manages Jorge's horses in the United States. "He is very excited and I'm sure he already has his ticket for the finals He told me he called all his buddies in Brasil and woke them up after the race was over at 4:20 a.m. Brasil time She is a nice filly. And should do well in the finals."

Ronald Skeen and Fawna Knight’s Oatman will give The Goodbye Kisser all she can handle Bred by Ed Allred and purchased out of the 2009 Los Alamitos Equine Sale for $50,000, Oatman broke his maiden thanks to a tremendous trial victory in a time of :19.475. With Joel Cruz aboard, the son of Walk Thru Fire beat Holiday Handicap runner-up by 1 ½ lengths. Fifth in his first two career starts, Oatman came into this race having finished a game sixth in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity after running second to Golden State Million Futurity winner One Sweet Jess in the Two Million trials.

“He’s getting better all of the time,” said trainer Mark Skeen, who conditions the horse for his father Ronald and his sister Fawna. “He’s a big colt and he needed time to get going. We’re pretty proud of him and he’s starting to figure things out in now his fifth career start. We loved him when we bought him at the sale. He came from Ed Allred’s consignment and that’s always good and we liked the horse a lot. He was our pick and we went after him. He had a few normal baby problems so we took our time with him. We brought him along slowly and we always hoped that he would become something later in the year.”

Oatman qualified to the “Deuce” and his game effort in the very competitive final helped him earn nearly $100,000.

“We are happy where he is at right now,” Skeen added. “He’s now made ($102,185) and we just hope we can keep him healthy. He’s going to keep improving so we are excited about that.”

Skeen and Fawna Knight grew up loving horses in the intermountain region.

“We used to ride for fun, but Mark was always good working with the horses,” Knight said. “As we became adults we bought a ranch in St. George, Utah, and that’s where we keep our horses, keep some broodmares, do some breeding and raise the babies.”

Knight has a home in Yorba Linda, California, but mainly resides in Arizona right now. Her dad, Ronald, lives in Ogden, Utah.

“Oatman is probably the horse with the most potential that we’ve owned. We like to buy horses, so he’s not the most we’ve paid for a horse, but he’s turning to be something that’s once in a lifetime. When he made the field to the Two Million that was amazing. The experience of being in that race was a lot of fun and we got to share it with dad, Mark and his wife, Holly.”

And now they can start sharing the fun of the Winter Derby.

Book Cooker ran a quick :19.658 to take the second trial – a race that ended up producing four of the 10 qualifiers to the Winter Derby final. In addition to the Jose Flores-owned runner, the trial also featured qualifiers Diligents, Current Sea and Runaway Corky. Filthy Fast won the fourth and final heat and was the only qualifier out of that race with a time of :19.720.

“I think he’s one of the better horses in the 3-year-old division and we think that he can still get better,” said trainer Roberto Dominguez. “He had a tough race in the trials to the Two Million. He was leaning back right when they opened the gate and then he slipped and he never had a shot from there. We’re working with him to help him improve in the gate and tonight he did a good job. We just wanted to qualify to the derby final and he’s done that, so we can now starting working on helping him get better.”

The complete order of qualifiers is as follows: The Goodbye Kisser (:19.413), Oatman (:19.475), Loose Perry (:19.552), Book Cooker (:19.658), Diligents (:19.677), Current Sea (:19.691), Runaway Corky (:19.717), Filthy Fast (:19.720) and Walkin Bac (:19.751). West Coast Hawk (:19.764) and Follys Fast (:19.764) finished in a dead heat for fourth in the trial won by The Goodbye Kisser and had to shake for the 10th and final qualifying slot. West Coast Hawk won the shake.