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Agave Kiss flies home in Cicada

  • Agave Kiss (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Despite an initial early challenge in Saturday's Grade 3, $147,000 Cicada Stakes, Agave Kiss easily ran away with the six-furlong contest to move her career record to a perfect four-for-four under jockey Ryan Curatolo. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee was made the 1-4 prohibitive favorite by the betting public and delivered when crossing under the wire three lengths the best.

"She was blowing a little bit harder than we expected, but that's good for her," Rodriguez said. "I'm very, very happy with the way she ran today. Maybe she needed this race. Maybe we haven't gotten to the bottom of her yet. Hopefully she keeps improving.

"I don't know (how good she can be). We won't know until somebody gets close to her and we find out what kind of heart she has."

Agave Kiss felt pressure at the very start of Aqueduct's fast inner dirt affair when slightly squeezed between Alydarla to her inside and Nitara on the outside. Alydarla tried to go with the Flying Zee Racing Stables colorbearer early, as did Corderosa, but Agave Kiss quickly shook loose from her rivals through an opening split of :23.

Alydarla, Nitara and Corderosa raced in tandem down the backstretch as Agave Kiss effortlessly set the half-mile mark in :46 1/5, but Nitara had already begun to fade as the leader hit the turn. Agave Kiss continued motoring in the lane, and Curatolo gave her a few taps to keep her mind on the business before hand riding his talented mount to the wire in a final time of 1:11 3/5.

"She improved a little bit more today," Curatolo said. "The first time I whipped her, she knows she needs to move and she responded more. She did everything great."

Corderosa easily took second by 6 1/4 lengths over Alydarla, with Princess Reyana, who had trailed in last throughout, another 6 3/4 lengths back in fourth. Nitara faded in the stretch to be last.

Agave Kiss opened her career with a romping 6 1/4-length maiden win at Belmont Park last October, then dominated an allowance field by 10 1/2 lengths when entered against winners at Aqueduct on December 1. The chestnut daughter of Lion Heart closed out her juvenile campaign with a 3 1/4-length score in the Ruthless Stakes on January 14, and doubled her lifetime earnings to $184,200 after adding the Cicada to her resume.

"We might try to stretch out in the (Grade 3) Comely (going a mile on April 7)," Rodriguez said of his charge's next start. "We'll see how she comes back, discuss with the owners, and then see what we might do. If everything goes well, our long-term plan is the (Grade 1) Prioress (going six furlongs at Saratoga on August 4) and (Grade 1) Test (going seven furlongs at Saratoga on August 25)."

Bred in New York by Nustar Breeding LLC, Agave Kiss is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning Salt Lake mare Salty Romance. The three-year-old filly is her dam's first stakes winner, though she has a dual stakes-placed half-brother named Luxury Appeal. Agave Kiss comes from the same female line as Grade 1 victor Execution's Reason.

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