Fleet Filly Agave Kiss One to Beat in Victory Ride

Agave Kiss wins the Cicada at Aqueduct

Flying Zee Racing Stables’ undefeated Agave Kiss appears to be the horse to beat in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride at Belmont Park.

All six of Agave Kiss’ previous victories have come at the Victory Ride distance of six furlongs, and she exits a career-best effort in the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, for which she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106 as she aired by 5 ½ lengths.

“She ran fast, but she seems like she came out of it pretty good,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. “I’m very, very happy with her right now.”

Rodriguez has always been happy with Agave Kiss, who broke her maiden impressively at Belmont last October and was dominant in three inner-track starts at Aqueduct over the winter, culminating in March’s Grade 3 Cicada, her first graded score. The Lion Heart filly has made her two most recent starts out of New York, taking the Trevose Stakes at Parx Racing on April 17 en route to the Miss Preakness on May 18. On Saturday, June 30, she breezed a bullet five furlongs in 59.07 at Aqueduct, her fourth timed workout since her most recent stakes win.

“She’s easy to train,” Rodriguez said of the front-running filly. “We try to treat her right, and she does it all herself. I feel very lucky. I wish I could have a lot of them [like her].”

Ramon Dominguez will ride the 2-5 favorite from the rail.

Five challengers have entered to face Agave Kiss, with Gypsy Robin carrying a three-stakes win streak dating back to last September.

A daughter of Daaher trained by Wesley Ward, Gypsy Robin closed out her juvenile campaign with a victory in Monmouth Park’s Sorority Stakes last September, her second start on dirt. Previously, she finished fourth in the Grade 3 Schuylerville on opening weekend at Saratoga Race Course last year, which followed a seventh-place effort on turf in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and an easy maiden score over the Polytrack at Keeneland in April.

This year, Gypsy Robin is 2-for-2, winning the Grade 2 Beaumont at Keeneland on April 15 and the six-furlong Inaugural Stakes at Presque Isle Downs a month later. Both races were contested over synthetic tracks, but Ward is confident in his filly’s abilities on dirt.

“I actually think dirt is her preferred surface,” said Ward, who owns the filly in partnership with Gatewood Bell and Wes Welker. “Our main goal with her right now is the Prioress at Saratoga (Grade 1, $300,000 on Saturday, August 4).”

Ward cross-entered Gypsy Robin in tomorrow’s Western Larla at Belmont, a six-furlong overnight stakes in which she would face males, but said Wednesday that he planned to run in the Victory Ride despite the presence of heavily favored Agave Kiss.

“I cross-entered because I didn’t want to go into the Prioress off a loss,” Ward explained. “But then I had Robbie Davis breeze her for me up in Saratoga and she just breezed so good (four furlongs in 48.32 on Sunday, July 1). I think she’s training better than she ever has before. You never know, but she might run better than she ever has before, too. If she runs a big race, I’d hate to waste it on a lesser stake.”

Julio Garcia was named to ride Gypsy Robin, who leaves from post position 5 and was tabbed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.

Tu Endie Wei, a stakes winner over Woodbine’s Polytrack, will try dirt for the first time in the Victory Ride. Allowance winners Emma’s Encore, Jamaican Smoke and Sea Island, supplemented to the race, complete the field.


The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride:








Agave Kiss (NY)

R A Dominguez


R R Rodriguez



Emma's Encore (FL)

J Alvarado


H A Jerkens



Jamaican Smoke (KY)

J Castellano


E Kenneally



Tu Endie Wei (KY)

J R Leparoux


R Baker



Gypsy Robin (KY)

J A Garcia


W A Ward



Sea Island (KY)

A Garcia


C R McGaughey III






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