Since 1961 the Pucker Up Stakes
(Grade 3) has been run on the expansive and beautiful Arlington
turf course at 9 furlongs. The race was named after; um… let me think… OH YEAH, Pucker Up (duh) – a champion
mare who won half of her races and finished in the money 28 of 32 total races. Two of those wins were in the Arlington Matron and Washington Park Handicaps in 1957 and therefore she has a strong connection to Chicago.
I see we have a real good, and full, field of three-year-old fillies set to run in the 2011 version of the race. At initial glance I think that Trac N Jam
and Marketing Mix
have excellent changes of winning. Let’s take a closer look at the field for the Pucker Up Stakes which will be run this Saturday
in the 9th race at Arlington.Race 9 – The Pucker Up Stakes
#5 – Summer Savory
This daughter of South African horse, Horse Chestnut, Summer Savory is coming off of a disappointing finish at Woodbine in her last race, although that race was only one mile in distance and she seems to prefer the longer races. If you throw out that race her turf record is quite good with two victories on Arlington’s turf course and a second place finish in the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks. There is class-a-plenty here as this filly should contend.
#3 – Marketing Mix
Canadian-bred Marketing Mix is coming off a break since 7/31/11 where she won her only turf outing at Woodbine closing in from the back of the pack to win the Wonder Where. In that race she also defeated a horse who I think is a very good contender by the name of Spooky Kitten. Marketing Mix has been working out very well at Arlington since her break and to put more probabilities in her favor, the Proctor/Alvarado combination is winning at a sizzling 37%! She takes a big jump in class here, but winners win…
#7 – Trac N Jam
This former winner of 3 in a row at one point finally lost a race in her last at Saratoga. She tried going up against tough Grade 2 company (against the likes of Hungry Island and Kathmanblu) where the pace was slow, the jockey lost his whip, the turf was yielding, and she ultimately finished 5th. Don’t let that performance fool you however. Trac N Jam loves the Chicago grass oval where she has won 2 of 3 times and she just seems to like turf in general as she has 3 wins on the surface. She should be closing hard at the end with Marketing Mix which will make it an exciting finish
#8 – Angelica Zapata
Florent Geroux gets the mount for this filly that has only run on the grass one other time. That race was a second place finish in a minor stakes race at Ellis Park on 7/23/11. Her other attempts against Grade 3 company have been less than stellar however and she hasn’t won a race since January. Still, the work pattern is decent and she may like the turf again.
#12 – Triune
This granddaughter of Theatrical should help set some of the pace in this race, but she also has not been running all that well as of late. So do we throw her out here? Not necessarily as she shows some of a pattern which I really like: the improving three-year-old. Her Beyers and finishing positions have improved over her last two starts. Based on my own theories she could fire here, although against this company it could be a tough task. She has also struggled against graded stakes company.
#9 – Don’t Tell Sophia
This filly seems to be able to run and do well on any surface. Although she has only run three times in her short career, she has hit the board on polytrack, dirt, and also turf! Her best win was against winners on the dirt at Hoosier Park
with a victory by over 8 lengths! Still, she is also taking a huge jump in class and I’m not sure if it will be too much for her or not.
#4 – Love Dare
Shipping in from Louisiana, Love Dare is coming off a pair of lifetime top Beyers of 85 and a couple of good performances against tougher company. Yet, she has never finished off of the board while on the grass either. Can she handle the longer distance? One would think that the connections wouldn’t ship her up to Arlington if they didn’t think she had a chance, right?
#11 – Happy Choice
Well, well, well. This is the horse that would have won the Pick 4 on Million day for Zipse
, and me. She charged hard at the end and just lost to Santina Dond (also running in this race) by a neck in the Hatoof. Ah, the great sport of horse racing. She hasn’t won on the turf yet, but also hasn’t finished off the board.
Rounding out the field:
#2 – Santina Dond
(20-1) Hatoof winner on Million day with the upset.
#6 – Seans Silverdancer
(20-1) local product 4th in the Hatoof.
#10 – Barbies M
(20-1) improving three-year-old could surprise here.
#13 – Artemus Kitten
(20-1) never off the board on turf.
#14 – Maid Of Heaven
(20-1) also never off the board on turf and could also surprise.
#1 – Sea Level Drive
(30-1) huge win in last, never has been on turf.
I’m having trouble
separating between Trac N Jam, Summer Savory, and Marketing Mix and I think either could hit the wire first. I expect Santina Dond, Love Dare, and Triune at or near the lead at least through half. If they can get others to chase at a bit of a quicker pace, then my selections may have an easier shot at closing in at the end. For a longshot alert, I wouldn’t discount Barbies M or Maid Of Heaven.
Who is your choice? You better Pucker Up